Aug. 21, 1804
The Corps of discovery enters present-day South Dakota. Here in the “Garden of Eden,” food sources are plentiful. The men feast on deer, elk, buffalo, plums and grapes. Clark discovers the tasty buffalo berry. Joseph Fields shoots the party’s first buffalo. And the captains record the first-ever scientific description of a pronghorn (antelope).
Aug. 25, 1804
The explorers hike to Spirit Mound. Area tribes believe that “little people” standing 18 inches tall and carrying arrows inhabit the hill. Lewis’s dog, Seaman, tires from the heat, and Lewis sends him back to the boat.
Aug. 30, 1804
The expedition has its first council with the Yankton Sioux. The explorers present the Yanktons with gifts of tobacco, flags and medals. The Yanktons prepare a feast. Mr. Dorion, the interpreter, stays behind to negotiate a peace with neighboring tribes and to arrange for the chiefs to visit Washington.
Sept. 7, 1804
The Corps of discovery sees their first prairie dogs, or as they call them, “barking squirrels.” The party spends hours trying to catch one by pouring water into its hole. They eventually manage to send a live prairie dog back to President Jefferson.
Sept. 11, 1804
After being separated from the party for more than two weeks, Private George Shannon re-joins the keelboat. Shannon, the youngest member of the party at age 19, had gotten lost on the prairie and run out of bullets. He had gone 12 days without eating, except for some wild grapes and a rabbit, which he shot using a piece of stick in place of a bullet.
Sept. 16, 1804
The expedition sets up camp to dry their provisions following three days of rain. Near their camp, the explorers find great quantities of plums and abundant wildlife. Lewis writes: “vast herds of Buffaloe deer Elk and Anitlopes were seen feeding in every direction as far as the eye of the observer could reach.”
Sept. 20, 1804
The expedition arrives at the Big Bend or Grand Detour, a 30-mile bend in the river. Early the next morning, as they are sleeping, the sandbar where the expedition set up camp starts to give way. They quickly load the boats and shove off, just as the campsite tumbles into the river.
Sept. 23, 1804
Three Teton Sioux boys approach the Corps’ campsite this evening. The captains tell the boys they would like to meet with their chiefs the next day.
Sept. 25, 1804
The captains hold council with three Teton chiefs at the mouth of the Teton River (now known as the Bad River). The meeting turns tense and could have become violent, if not for the action of Black Buffalo, one of the chiefs. Clark’s journal entry for the day includes this reference: “we discover our interpeter do not Speak the language well.”
Oct. 8, 1804
The expedition spends several peaceful days at an Arikara village. The Arikara are fascinated by Clark’s black servant, York. York relishes the attention and makes himself appear “more turrible in their view than I wished,” Clark writes. It seems York told the Arikara he was wild and feasted on young children!
While at their winter camp at Fort Mandan, N.D., the captains enlist the help of Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife, Sacagawea, as interpreters. Their infant son, Jean Baptiste, also makes the trip to the Pacific Ocean. Sacagawea dies of a “putrid fever” at Fort Manuel near present-day Kenel, S.D., just six years after the trip.
Sept. 1, 1806
On the return trip through present-day South Dakota, the explorers meet up with a group of Yankton Sioux. After realizing they are friends, the two groups smoke several pipes and exchange news of what has happened in the two years since the expedition first passed through the are.