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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

wapato

These entries were written near Salmon Creek in Clark County, Washington.

Capt. Clark, November 4, 1805--We landed at a village 200 men of Flatheads of 25 houses 50 canoes built of straw, we were treated verry kindly by them, they gave us round root near the size of a hens egg roasted which they call Wap-to to eat

Capt. Clark, November 4, 1805--we recognised the man who over took us last night,   he invited us to a lodge in which he had Some part and gave us a roundish roots about the Size of a Small Irish potato which they roasted in the embers until they became Soft,    This root they call Wap-pa-to the Bulb of which the Chinese cultivate in great quantities called the Sa-git ti folia or common arrow head,   it has an agreeable taste and answers verry well in place of bread. we purchased about 4 bushels of this root and divided it to our party,

These entries were written at Fort Clatsop

Capt. Clark, January 22, 1806--but the most Valuable of all their roots is foreign to this neighbourhood I mean the Wappetoe. The Wappetoe, or bulb of the Sagitifolia or common arrow head, which grows in great abundance in the marshey grounds of that butifull and fertile vally on the Columbia commenceing just above the Quick sand River and extending downwards for about 70 Miles. this bulb forms a0rincipal article of trafic between the inhabitents of the Vally and those of their neighbourhood or sea coast.

Capt. Lewis, January 24, 1806--but the most valuable of all their roots is foreign to this neighbourhood I mean the Wappetoe, or the bulb of the Sagitifolia or common arrow head, which grows in great abundance in the marshey grounds of that beatifull and firtile valley on the Columbia commencing just above the entrance of Quicksand River, and extending downwards for about 70 Miles. this bulb forms a principal article of traffic between the inhabitants of the valley and those of this neighbourhood or sea coast.

The instrument used by the natives in diging their roots is a strong stick of 3 1/2 feet long sharpened at the lower end and it's upper inscerted into a part of an Elks or buck's horn which serves as a handle, standing transversely with the stick, or it is in this form A the lower point, B the upper part or handle.

These journal entries were written near Sauvie Island between Clark County, Washington and Multnomah County, Oregon, the same area as the November 4, 1805 entries.

Capt. Lewis, March 29, 1806--they had also an abundance of sturgeon and wappetoe; the latter they take in great quantities from the neighbouring ponds, which are numerous and extensive in the river bottoms and islands. the wappetoe furnishes the principal article of traffic with these people which they dispose of to the nations below in exchange for beads cloth and various articles. the natives of the sea coast and lower part of the river will dispose of their most valuable articles to obtain this root.

Capt. Clark, March 29, 1806--we purchased wappatoe and some pashaquar roots. gave a Medal of the small size to the principal chief, and at 5 oClock reembarked and proceeded up on the N E of an Island to an inlet about I mile above the village and encamped on a butifull grassy plac[e], where the nativs make a portage of their canoes, and wappato roots to and from a large pond at a short distance. in this pond the nativs inform us they collect great quantities of p[w]appato, which the women collect by getting into the water, sometimes to their necks holding by a small canoe and with their feet loosen the wappato or bulb of the root from the bottom from the Fibers, and it imedeately rises to the top of the water    they collect & throw them into the canoe, those deep roots are the largest and best roots. Great numbers of the whistling swan, Gees and Ducks in the Ponds. Soon after we landed 3 of the nativs came up with wappato to sell a part of which we purchased.

Capt. Lewis, March 30, 1806--We got under way very early in the morning, and had not reached the head of the island before we were met by three men of the Clan-nah-min-na-mun nation one of whom we recognized being the same who had accompanied us yesterday, and who was very pressing in his entreaties that we should visit his nation on the inlet S. W. of Wappetoe island. at the distance of about 2 M. or at the head of the quathlahpahtle island we met a party of the Claxtars and Cathlahcumups in two canoes; soon after we were met by several canoes of the different nations who reside on each side of the river near this place. Wappetoe [Sauvie] Island is about 20 miles long and from 5 to 10 in width; the land is high and extreemly fertile and intersected in many parts with ponds which produce great quantities of the sagittaria Sagittifolia, the bulb of which the natives call wappetoe.

. . . . at the distance of 5 miles above quathlahpotle Island on the N. E. side we halted for breakfast near the place we had encamped on the evening of the 4th of November last; here we were visited by several canoes which came off from two towns situated a little distance above us on wappetoe Island.  from these visiters we purchased a sturgeon and some wappetoe and pashequa for which we gave some small fishinghooks.

Capt. Clark, March 30, 1806--We got under way verry early and had not proceeded to the head of the island before we met with the three men of the Clan-nar-min-a-mon's who met us yesterday    brackfast at the upper point of the Island    we met Several of the Clackstar and Cath-lah-cum-up in two canoes.   Soon after we were overtaken by several canoes of different tribes who reside on each side of the river    the three above Tribes and the Clâh-in-na-ta cath-lah- nah-qui-up & Cath-lah-com-mah-cup reside on each side of Wappato inlet and back of Wappato Island which Island is formed by a small chanel which passes from the Lower part of Image canoe Island into an inlet which makes in from the S W. side, and receves the water of a Creek which heads with the Kilamox River.   this wappato Island is about 18 or 20 miles long and in places from 6 to 10 miles wide high & furtile with ponds on different parts of it in which the nativs geather wappato.   nearly opposit the upper point of the Isld. behing which we encamped last night, or on the Wappato Isld. is several camps of the nativs catching sturgion.   about 5 miles still higher up and on the N E. side we halted for brackfast at the place which we had encamped the 4th of November last.   here we were visited by several canoes of Indians from two Towns a short distance above on the Wappato Island.   the Ist of those Tribes call themselves Clan-nah-quah and situated about 2 miles above us, the other about a mile above call themselves Mult-no-mah    we purchased of those visitors a Sturgion and some wappato & quarmarsh roots for which we gave small fishing hooks.

Those tribes of Indians who inhabit this vally . . . are fond of sculpture. various figures are carved and painted on the pieces which Support the Center of the roof about their dores and beads. They are well supplied with anchoves sturgion and Wappato. The latter furnishes the principal article of traffic with those Tribes which they despose of to the nativs below in exchange for beeds, cloath and various articles. the nativs of the sea coast and lower part of this river will dispose of their most valueable articles to obtain this root.

Capt. Clark, March 31, 1806--those people informed us that their relations who was with them last fall reside at the Great rapids, and were down with them last fall gathering wappato which did not grow above, and also killing deer, that they secured the bark of the houses which they then lived in against their return next fall. they also inform us that their relations also visit them frequently in the spring to collect this root which is in great quantities on either side of the Columbia.

Capt. Clark, April 2, 1806--at this place we had Seen 24 aditional straw Huts as we passed down last fall and whome as I have before mentioned reside at the Great rapids of the Columbia. on the bank at different places I observed small canoes which the women make use of to gather wappato & roots in the Slashes. those Canoes are from 10 to 14 feet long and from 18 to 23 inches wide in the widest part tapering from the center to both ends in this form and about 9 inches deep and so light that a woman may with one hand haul them with ease, and they are sufficient to carry a woman an[d] some loading. I think 100 of those canoes were piled up and scattered in different directions about in the woods in the vicinity of this house, the pilot informed me that those canoes were the property of the inhabitents of the Grand rapids who used them ocasionally to gather roots. I entered one of the rooms of this house and offered several articles to the nativs in exchange for wappato. they were sulkey and they positively refused to sell any.

 
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