Clatsop Indians remember Lewis & Clark

twilch header

Fairly amazing oral history here!An old pioneer settler on the land where Lewis & Clark spent their famous Pacific Coast winter remembers local Native people’s Chinuk Wawa accounts of the explorers.


…The Oregon Historical Society has securely enclosed these cairns [in Seaside, OR] to protect them from the vandalism of relic hunters. In both location and general appearance these cairns agree with the descriptions given by Lewis and Clark. Besides, they have been fully identified by an old Clatsop Indian woman, “Sten-is-tum,” who is now 91 years old. She says that when a girl she often gathered “sal-lal-ol-il-lies,” (sallal berries) with her mother, Wah-ne-ask, near the cairns and heard her mother say that she knew Lewis and Clark and had seen their men making salt there.

Twilch, the Elk Hunter

Along in the fifties, when I lived on my ranch near Fort Clatsop, I knew an old Indian man, Twilch. “Twilch, the Flk Hunter,” we called him. He remembered Lewis and Clark well and often spoke of them to me. He was greatly impressed with their skill and success in hunting and killing elk. In speaking of them to me, he said: “Klos-ka mam-ook mem-a-loose hy-iu mo-lock, klos-ka hy-iu kum-tux nan-ich mo-lock; hy-as closhe suk-wol-lal.” (They killed a great many elk, were excellent hunters, and had the best of guns.)

— “The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Part III” by P.W. Gillette (Pacific Monthly 7(1), January 1902, page 110)

sal-lal-ol-il-lies = sálál-úlilisalal berries

Klos-ka mam-ook mem-a-loose hy-iu mo-lock, klos-ka hy-iu kum-tux nan-ich
ɬáska mamuk-míməlus háyú múlak, ɬáska hayu-kə́mtəks-nánich
they make-die many elk, they much-know-look.for
‘They killed many elk, they were good at hunting’

mo-lock; hy-as closhe suk-wol-lal. =
múlak; hayas-ɬúsh sə́qwəlal
elk; Intensifier-good gun
‘elk; (there were) really good guns.’

It’s not often you run into Natives’ recollections of Lewis & Clark, and these are in very good Chinook Jargon. I’d love to look at the preceding installments one day, when I get access to them.

What do you think?