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

The Walla Wallas and their chief Yelleppit encountered Lewis and Clark for the first time in early October of 1805. At the time, the expedition was rushing to reach the Pacific Ocean, and refused Yelleppit’s offer to stay with his people. However, the Walla Walla chief did manage to exact a promise from the captains to return to his village on their way back. When the Corps of Discovery re-entered Walla Walla territory at the end of April 1806, Yelleppit again asked the Americans to stop, and they did.

The Walla Wallas lived about 12 miles from the junction of the Snake and Columbia rivers in present-day southern Washington. Some 15 lodges comprised Yelleppit’s village, and the Walla Wallas, at their chief’s instruction, welcomed the Americans warmly. Relations between the two groups were simplified by the presence of a Shoshone woman who the Walla Wallas had captured. She translated Walla Walla to Shoshone for Sacagawea, opening the translation chain for the Corps’ interpreters.

Chief Yelleppit enjoyed the prestige of hosting his foreign visitors, yet also sought to trade for the expedition’s goods, especially items like kettles. To establish goodwill with the Corps, Yelleppit awarded Clark with a white horse, and supplied the rest of the expedition with firewood and roasted fish. In exchange, Yelleppit received Clark’s sword, 100 rounds of ammunition and some trade items.

When the Corps made their plans to depart known on their second day with the Walla Wallas, Yelleppit enticed them to stay one additional night. In return for their presence, the chief gave them horses, food, canoes and valuable information for reaching their next destination, the camp of the Nez Perces. That evening, a large party of Yakima Indians joined the Walla Wallas, and together, with the Corps of Discovery, the Indians threw a rousing celebration. Altogether, the attendants numbered in the hundreds, and all danced to the rhythms played on the Walla Wallas’ hide drums and rattles.