Clark treated the sore back of a chief’s wife by rubbing camphor and applying warm flannel. The “physician-captains” frequently dispensed eye wash as “sore eyes seam to be a universal complaint among those people.” Lewis and Clark agreed that Clark would be the Indian’s physician as, “he was their favorite.” However, encounters with Native Americans were not always favorable.
The Teton Sioux Indians’ perception of the white men as competitors for the control of trade nearly resulted in an armed conflict.
Fields as he seized his gun stabed the indian to the heart with his knife the fellow ran about 15 steps and fell dead.” Once the Indians realized the Americans were awake and armed, they tried to run off and steal the expedition’s horses. that I would shoot them if they did not give me my horse and raised my gun, one of them jumped behind a rock and spoke to the other who turned around and stoped at the distance of 30 steps from me and I shot him through the belly, he fell to his knees and on his wright elbow from which position he partly raised himself up and fired at me, and turning himself about crawled in behind a rock which was a few feet from him.
Clark utilized Rush’s list and added a few of his own queries concerning the treatment of smallpox and methods of inducing evacuation.
On the west coast, the Chinooks angered the Corps by stealing, and Clark writes about the need for “the protection of our Stores from thieft.” A tragic interchange occurred in July 1806 only several months before the trip’s end.
Lewis, in a political blunder, informed a band of Blackfeet warriors that Americans would give guns to Blackfeet enemies who agreed to a comprehensive peace plan.
Similar to the white man’s medicine of the time, the Indians relied on experience and observation rather than strict scientific experiments.
The Native Americans practiced bloodletting and purging, induced sweating and vomiting, and mingled their medicine with mysticism and ritual.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition came in contact with nearly fifty Native American tribes and soon learned that the various groups had different lifestyles, languages, and opinions of the white men.
Some welcomed the explorers and were eager to trade and interact; others acted fearful or threatened.