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Enclosure: Extracts from Accounts of Indians and the Fur Trade along the Missouri River, 16 November 1803

Enclosure: Extracts from Accounts of Indians and
the Fur Trade along the Missouri River

Extracts from the Journal of M. Truteau, Agent for the Illinois trading company, residing at the village of Ricara, up the Missouri.

This company was confirmed in 1796. with the exclusive right for 10. years to trade with all the nations above the Poncas, as well to the South, & the West, as to the North of the Missouri with a premium of 3000. pes. for the discovery of the South Sea: and a gratification of 10,000. pes. which the King of Spain is to pay for the support of a milice. The company however have1

In the Missouri river there is depth sufficient to carry a frigate as far up as it is known. it has no cataracts, no portages. the winds on it are so violent that the periagues are sometimes obliged to lie by one, two, three, or four days, & sometimes take as long time to descend as to ascend the river. the Canadians employed in the trading voyages on it have 250. to 300. for 18. months, & take it often in goods, on which the merchant gains half. the soil of the Missouri is the most fertile in the universe. the rivers falling into it are all navigable more or less from 50. or 100. to 200 or 300. leagues.

The Ricaras, are a branch of the Panis, residing up the Missouri, about 430. leagues from the Illinois. there are 2. villages of them, half a league apart, the one 800. yds from the river, the other 100. yards. they are a mild people, having about 500. warriors. there is no timber on the Missouri for 50. leagues above or below them.

The Crow nation inhabit near the Rock mountain.

The Sioux inhabit the Northern part of the Missisipi, and are hostile to the Ricaras, Mendannes, big bellies & others. others of them live on the river St. Pierre. they have from 30. to 40,000. men, and abound in fire-arms. they are the greatest beaver hunters; and could furnish more beavers than all the nations besides, and could bring them to a depot on the Missouri, rather than to St. Pierre, or any other place. their beaver is worth the double of the Canadian for the fineness of it’s down & parchment.

The Chaquiennes, Panis Mahas, Mendannes, Big bellies are in the neighborhood of the Ricaras.

The Pados are 80. leagues from the Ricaras, South, on a branch of the river.

The Cayoguas, Caminanbeihes & Pitapahatos are to the South & S.W. of the Ricaras, on a branch of the Missouri. they have had no communication with the Whites. this river is broad but too shallow for a periague.

The Grand Osages are from 7. to 800. men. they furnish 20,000. skins of the small deer, and take 14. to 15. M pes de Mes. [qu. whether these characters pes de Mes mean pieces de Marchandise or piastres de Mexique?

The Petits Osages are 250. to 300. men. furnish 7. to 8000. fine deerskins & take 4. to 5 M pes. des Mes.

The Kansas, 250 to 300. men. furnish & take the same as the Petits Osages.

With the three last nations the hunt continues to Oct. Nov. & even the middle of Dec. the hunters then meet, fix their prices, which are a blanket of 2½ points for 6. 7. or 8. deerskins. in 2 days the whole are sold, & if the ice did not hinder, the traders could be returned by Christmas, whereas they do not return till April or May. these nations are very certain of the arrival of traders among them, but those above are often disappointed; because the merchants of St. Louis recieve their goods from Mackinac, or Montreal, & they do not arrive at St. Louis early enough to reach the upper nations in time for the season. through the Ohio the goods might be brought in time to reach the uppermost nations.

The Otoctatas take 2 M to 2500. pes. marchse. & furnish 3500. to 4000 fine peltries of Deer, & ¼ of that of beaver.

The Mahas are from 4. to 500. men. the Poncas 200. to 250. men. these two nations furnish and take each about the same as the Otoctatas, but more beaver. the English however draw them off by land to the river Moingona.

The Panis of the 2. villages are from 4. to 500. men. take 2000. to 2500. pes. Marche. & furnish 4000. skins, robes & Castor of the 1st. quality. those of the Republic are from 400 to 500. men, take & furnish about half as much as the last. they are 50. or 100 leagues apart.

The Loups, which are Panis also are from 200. to 250. men.

PrC (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand, including bracket.

Jean Baptiste truteau, sometimes spelled Trudeau, was a French Canadian who settled in St. Louis and who led an expedition organized by the Spanish-commissioned Missouri Company (illinois trading company). From 1794 to 1796, he explored the Missouri River, with the ultimate purpose of establishing Spanish influence over the Mandan villages in present-day Montana and expelling British and Canadian traders. Truteau failed to reach the Mandans but did spend a winter with the Arikaras (ricara), who occupied two villages near the confluence of the Cheyenne and Missouri Rivers. He sent an account of his experiences to his superiors in St. Louis filled with careful observations of the Indians he encountered and with whom he attempted to trade. It is unclear when TJ obtained a copy of a portion of the journal, although there has been some speculation that it was among the “modern Manuscripts” enclosed by James Wilkinson in a letter of 1 Sep. 1800 (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, 46 p., in French, endorsed in English: “Journal of a Voyage on the Missouri”; endorsed in French: “Journal tenu par J Bte Truteau agent de la Compagnie du haut du Missouris addressé à Mrs Clamorgan et Reihle directeurs de la Compagnie Commencé Le 1er juin 1795” and “Seconde partie”; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928-36, 20 vols. description ends , s.v., “Truteau, Jean Baptiste”; Jean-Baptiste Trudeau, Voyage sur le Haut-Missouri, 1794-1796, ed. Fernand Grenier [Quebec, 2006]; A. P. Nasatir, ed., Before Lewis and Clark: Documents Illustrating the History of the Missouri, 1785-1804, 2 vols. [St. Louis, 1952], 1:217-28, 243-53, 294-311; John Logan Allen, Passage through the Garden: Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American Northwest [Urbana, Ill., 1975], 67-8; Vol. 32:119-20). TJ conflated his copy of Truteau’s journal with a different manuscript that also derived from the efforts of the Missouri Company. Endorsed “Account of Indian trade by C___[n],” the document may have been composed by Jacques Clamorgan, the company’s director. References to the company’s royal charter in 1796 and to the commission merchant Andrew Todd, who became that year Clamorgan’s principal supplier of goods, indicate that it was written sometime near the end of or after that year (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, 12 p., in French, undated; Nasatir, Before Lewis and Clark, 2:419, 464-7). Before compiling the extracts for Lewis, TJ took notes from the documents, first drawing from Truteau demographic and geographical information on Indian nations living up the Missouri, and next drawing information on the fur trade from the “Account.” For his enclosure to Lewis, TJ scrambled this organization, interspersing lines derived from the two sources, with the majority coming from the fur trade document. The information contained in TJ’s notes and in the enclosure to Lewis was substantively identical (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 137:23685; entirely in TJ’s hand; undated; endorsed “Louisiana”; consisting of notes headed “1795. Journal of Truteau the Agent of the Company of the haut Missouri, establd at <St Louis> Illinois” followed on same sheet by notes headed “Account of the commerce”).

milice: militia.

The Arikaras were closely related to the Pawnees (panis). Both were members of the Caddoan language group and derived from common ancestors. The Pawnees were divided into four distinct bands that did not include the Arikaras, although Truteau seems to have believed otherwise. The Gros Ventres (big bellies) at this time lived north of the Missouri River in Canada, so it is likely that Truteau was confusing them with the Hidatsas, who lived in close proximity to the Mandans (Sturtevant, Handbook description begins William C. Sturtevant, Handbook of North American Indians, Washington, 1978- , 15 vols. description ends , 13:365-6, 515, 517-19, 693).

chaquiennes: that is, the Cheyennes. Truteau used the name panis mahas for the Skiri band of the Pawnees, also known as the Loups. The pados were the Comanches. The cayoguas were the Kiowas, and the caminanbeihes were the Arapahos. The pitapahatos were a band of the Kiowas (same, 13:517-19, 860, 880, 970).

pieces de marchandise or piastres de mexique: TJ transcribed the abbreviation “pes de Mes” directly from the fur trade document. It likely represented the monetary value of the merchandise intended for the Indians in exchange for furs. In a report of 8 July 1795, for example, Jacques Clamorgan indicated that the Missouri Company had allocated for Truteau’s expedition merchandise worth 20,000 of an unidentified denomination, probably pesos, possibly French livres. In his notes on the “Account of the commerce,” TJ wrote his query as: “qu. if the characters pes. de Mes [here called pieces or bales of merchandise] do not every where mean ‘piastres de Mexique’?” The author of the fur trade account evidently had an intimate knowledge of the Spanish-sanctioned Missouri River trade as it stood in the mid-1790s, as well as of the obstacles to and opportunities for drawing the lucrative Sioux trade from the Mississippi River and Great Lakes to the Missouri. The sequence of tribes that TJ extracted follows the Missouri upriver and is similar to a 1794 allocation of trade concessions to St. Louis merchants. That allocation listed all but one of the same tribes: the two divisions of the osages, the Kansas, the Otoes (otoctatas), the Omahas (mahas), and the different bands of the Pawnees. The document indicated, therefore, a trade that did not extend farther north than present-day Nebraska. Individual traders from St. Louis had ventured farther upriver but not in the organized fashion that the Missouri Company was attempting (Nasatir, Before Lewis and Clark, 1:209-11, 339; W. Raymond Wood, Prologue to Lewis and Clark: The Mackay and Evans Expedition [Norman, Okla., 2003], 27-31).

In his notes on the “Account of the commerce” cited above, TJ wrote of the Pawnees of the two villages, the republic Indians, and the loups: “these hunt little, take few blankets & cloths, cloathing themselves in skins.”

1In TJ’s notes cited above, he continued “mostly withdrawn, the business has been a losing one, & now almost discontinued.”

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