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Index Inside the Corps The Native Americans The Archive Living History Into the Unknown Forum with Ken Burns Classroom Resources Related Products Interactive Trail Map Search Lewis and Clark navigation Introduction Arikaras Assiniboins Blackfeet Chinooks Clatsops Hidatsas Mandans Missouris Nez Perces Otos Shoshones Teton Sioux Tillamooks Walla Wallas Wishrams Yankton Sioux Lewis and Clark navigation
 

In the early 18th century, from spring through fall, an almost unlimited amount of salmon was available in the 12-mile stretch of the Columbia River later known as the Dalles. Control of this fertile section of the Columbia was shared by the Wasco Indians, who lived on the south bank, and the Wishrams, who occupied the north side.

Nixluidix, meaning “trading place,” was a Wishram village and a primary center of the area’s trade. When Lewis and Clark came to Nixluidix in October 1805, they discovered 20 large wooden houses, each home to three Wishram families. The expedition also found it had arrived near the end of an intense trading period that had started in mid-April. From April through mid-October, salmon made their upstream journey toward their spawning grounds, literally providing the Wishram with mountains of fish. In his journal, Clark recorded a total of 107 stacks of salmon, and estimated their total weight at over 10,000 pounds.

Indian tribes, among them the nearby Yakimas and more distant Walla Wallas and Nez Perces, made their way to Nixluidix to trade goods for the bounty of Wishram salmon. Locals brought meat, roots and berries, while tribes like the Nez Perces traded animal skins, horses and buffalo meat. In return, the Wishram gave their visitors dried salmon, which would keep for a long period of time and was an excellent source of winter food. Interestingly, the Nixluidix trade meetings were also a venue for intertribal socializing, gambling and meeting members of the opposite sex.

Lewis and Clark stayed with the Wishram for a short time, and Patrick Gass, the former carpenter, thought enough of the Wishram houses to note them positively in his journal. The expedition did what it could to promote peace among the various Indian tribes in the area, carrying out its ritual of presenting medals and gifts. Before departing, the captains negotiated a peace agreement between the Nez Perces and Wishram, a settlement that was celebrated that same evening in music and dance.


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