How the Indians Taught The Early White Explorer’s To Survive Cold Winter’s

In November of 1805, Lewis and Clark and their men had set up cabins and a fort in what is now North and South Dakota. They had decided to wit out the winter. Anyone who has ever been to the northwest in the winter time, knows it can be serious. Lewis and Clark had decided it was too dangerous to attempt to move further west at this time.

It was a bad time of year. The day’s and nights were cold, most of the time the temperature was barely above freezing. One day they recorded that their thermometer read -11 degrees and the next was -21 only a few days later to reach -40. That’s cold folks, and imagine what they were wearing to keep warm.

While these blizzard like conditions persisted, they mostly stayed inside but a few times had to venture out for food. That’s wild game. They would go out in groups of a dozen and be gone for days at a time. Once, while gone on a 9 day trip, they killed 3 buffalo, 16 elk and 40 deer.

The hunting wasn’t for sport or just to be shooting something. It was for food. Sometimes they would trade or barter with the nearby Mandan Indians. They would trade whatever the Indians wanted for some of their corn. Then they could make bread and all sorts of things.

But, they got more from the Indians than just corn. The Indians taught them how to hunt buffalo. One of the Indian warriors would cover himself with a buffalo skin and have the horns on his head and cause the buffalo to stampede. He would act as a decoy and run toward a high cliff while the other Indians would come from behind the herd and startle them in the direction of the decoy. One after the other, the buffalo would run over the cliff to their death, then the hunters would simply go to the bottom and gather meat and hides.

On hunts like this sometimes would provide enough meat for a village for a few months.

Until next time or I catch you on the trail. God Bless

Ricky Cooper

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