Lower Chinook and Clatsop
Traditional Culture
  Since Time Immemorial
Who's Who
Village Life
Inter-Village Relations
Seasonal Round
"Celiast" and "Ilchee"
Intertribal Trade Network
Canoe People
References Cited

  Contemporary Culture
Environmental History
Cultural History
Recommended Websites

  Relationship with U.S.
  Early Coastal Exploration
Strangers Arrive
Maritime Fur Trade
Fort Clatsop Winter
Overland Fur Trade
Disease and Burial Customs
Fisheries, Missions, and Settlements
Shrinking Land Base
Making Treaties
Recognition and U.S. Relations
References Cited

“disagreeably situated"

“Fort Clatsop, the residence of Capts. Lewis & Clark while in this country, is now in ruins, and distant about seven miles in a south east direction, it was very disagreeably situated, being surrounded with swamps and quagmires, but the immense number of Elk and wild Fowl, which resort thither in winter for feed, more than compensates for that inconvenience" (Stuart 1953:27-28).

"Real Chiefs" The spot on which Lewis and Clarke’s winter encampment was fixed is still discernible, and the foundation logs remained till within a year or two. It was on the west bank of a little river, called by the Indians Netul, but generally known as Lewis and Clarke’s River, about two miles from its mouth. The trail by which they used to reach the coast can also be traced.

“Their visit produced a stronger impression than any event before the arrival of the Astoria party, and they are still remembered by the older Indians. One of these Indians told a settler that the captains were real chiefs, and that the Americans who had come since were but tilikum, or common peo­ple. Ske-mah-kwe-up, the chief, and almost the last survivor of the Wah­-kiakum band of Tsinük, preserved with great pride the medal given him by Lewis and Clarke, until within a year or two, when it was accidentally lost, to his great grief" (Gibbs 1877:238).

Dick Basch (Clatsop) and
Joe Scovell (Tillamook)

at site of beached whale which Lewis and Clark visited in January, 1806.

Fort Clatsop > Culture > Fort Clatsop Winter
Kenneth Furrow photo

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Dick Basch and daughters

"When Lewis and Clark left, they turned the fort over to our family. And when they left in 1806, Lewis and Clark signed the document, nailed it to the wall, signing the fort over to our family. And after that our family did move in here, and lived here for several years" (Dick Basch interview:2002).


Dick Basch with replica of Lewis and Clark dugout canoe, at Fort Clatsop.
Kenneth. Furrow photo.

"The materials Lewis and Clark made their canoes from were the pine, from up river. But it's the skill it's the technique that really shows the difference. I have referred to these canoes as something like a tootsie roll, just with the middle dug out, just so short and blunt and tipsy. Our canoes, of course, the classic Chinook canoe, could go out on the waters of the Columbia River, across the bar, to the ocean. They were so sturdy" (Dick Basch interview: 2002).

"Celiast was born in 1801, and was four years old when Lewis and Clark arrived in 1805. Her father...was the neighbor, the, to the fort. The one that Lewis and Clark looked to, for trade, for support, and they had a very important relationship.

" ... it was a real long-term relationship. It was a long winter for Lewis and Clark, and they went through a lot of hardships, and towards the end of their visit were close to starving. You know, they didn't have a lot of food; they were worried about where they were going to get their next meal, but when you look at what it must have been like back in our house, in the longhouse, you know, we had a lot of foods, I'm sure still stored up.

"But Lewis and Clark had run out of things to trade, you know, we had traded with people, with sailors before and we know, knew what was good stuff and what wasn't, especially us. Chinook and Clatsop cultures were so good with trades, trading.

"...what it must have been like for Celiast as a little child running around in the village, the longhouse, and to see Lewis and Clark arrive and to build a fort right next door, more or less. What it must have been like back at the village to hear what was going on, on that side. Too bad somebody really didn't keep journals on that side, that would have been real interesting. But, really, all we can do now is imagine, and then realize they weren't the first non-Indians that came along, and there was many before them on the sailing ships" (Dick Basch interview: 2002).


"What I would say about Lewis and Clark that I like to say, is you know, those were poor looking sons-of-guns in the sense of what they came down the Columbia River in. They may well have had, well, what they had that was impressive to everybody was their guns. You know, they had impressive guns, but in terms of how pitiful their clothes were.

"And especially, you know, they came down the Columbia in canoes that a five year old, you know, I mean literally a little kid Chinook would've made a slicker canoe, in terms of for this water down here. That, their canoes somewhat resemble the shovel-nosed canoes I was speaking about earlier, so they have some of the attributes that are good for traveling on sweetwater, but they're not refined like the canoes that we made to travel on sweetwater.

"And so, when they got down here, it really is almost miraculous they made it to here, because this canoe is made for this country. It's refined over a thousand years to be that, and you know, and they appreciated that. I mean, that's one thing we'll say is they note that we were some of the finest or if not, I guess, the finest canoe makers and canoe people they'd seen, so" (Tony Johnson interview: 2002).


Beached Whale

Route to the Whale Site,
ca. Jan. 6-10, 1806, Clark’s
first draft. (Moulton V.6, 1990)
James G. Swan’s “blubber feast"
“..a whale was washed ashore on the beach between Toke’s Point and Gray’s Harbor, and all the Indians about the Bay went to get their share" (Swan 1857:360).

5 January, 1806, news of the whale reaches Clark from the men at the Salt Works near present day Seaside, Oregon:

“...near the houses of Some Clat Sop & Kil a mox families; that the Indians were very friendly and had given them a considerable quantity of the blubber of the whale which perished on the Coast Some distance S.E. of them...” (Clark in Moulton V.6, 1990:167).

8 January, 1806, from Lewis’s journal:

“...I saw 5 Lodges of Indian of the Ca la mix nation, boiling whale in a trough of about 20 gallons with hot Stones, and the oyle they put into a Canoe I proceded on a Short distance to the whale which was nothing more than the Sceleton, of 105 feet long...” (Lewis in Moulton V.6, 1990:180).

Background: Looking across the mouth of the Lewis and Clark River.
S. Thompson photo