"They Had Been A Military And Powerful People; But When These Warriors
Saw Their Strength Wasting Before A Malady Which
They could not resist,
their frenzy was extreme; they burned their village, and many of them put
to death their
Wives and children, to save them from so cruel an affliction,
and that all might go together to some better country."
In Omaha, or Mahar Creek, the explorers made their first experiment
in dragging the stream for fish. With a drag of willows, loaded
with stones, they succeeded in catching a great variety of fine fish,
over three hundred at one haul, and eight hundred at another.
These were pike, bass, salmon-trout, catfish, buffalo fish, perch,
and a species of shrimp, all of which proved an acceptable
addition to their usual flesh bill-of-fare.
Desiring to call in some of the surrounding Indian tribes,
they here set fire to the dry prairie grass, that being the customary
signal for a meeting of different bands of roving peoples.
In the afternoon of August 18, a party of Ottoes, headed by Little Thief
and Big Horse, came in, with six other chiefs and a French interpreter.
The journal says: -
"We met them under a shade, and after they had finished a repast with which we
supplied them, we inquired into the origin of the war between them and
the Mahas, which they related with great frankness. It seems that two of
the Missouris went to the Mahas to steal horses, but were detected and killed;
the Ottoes and Missouris thought themselves bound to avenge their companions,
and the whole nations were at last obliged to share in the dispute.
They are also in fear of a war from the Pawnees, whose village they entered
this summer, while the inhabitants were hunting, and stole their corn.
This ingenuous confession did not make us the less desirous of negotiating
a peace for them; but no Indians have as yet been attracted by our fire.
The evening was closed by a dance; and the next day, the chiefs
and warriors being assembled at ten o'clock, we explained the speech
we had already sent from the Council Bluffs, and renewed our advice.
They all replied in turn, and the presents were then distributed.
We exchanged the small medal we had formerly given to the Big Horse for one
of the same size with that of Little Thief:
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