Songs of Lewis & Clark

by Sara Bouchard

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"Songs of Lewis & Clark" is a song cycle setting the journals of Lewis and Clark to music. With lyrics taken directly from the journals, the songs reveal moments of awe, reflection, humor and joy during the course of the 1804-1806 expedition through the newly purchased Louisiana territory.

Lewis & Clark author Frances Hunter praised the album, saying: "Unlike any music I have heard in years, Bouchard’s approach demands that you stop and listen... [she] sings in such a way as to bring out the drama, poignancy, and poetry of the language."


released November 8, 2008


all rights reserved



Sara Bouchard Richmond, Virginia

I am a multi-disciplinary artist and songwriter with a strong foothold in American roots. As an artist, I investigate ways to interact with and represent the American landscape through song. As a musician, I perform original and traditional tunes - drawn from bluegrass, old-time, jazz, country and blues - with my band SALT PARADE. ... more

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Track Name: Antelope
Lewis: Monday September 17th 1804.

I had this day an opportunity of witnessing the agility
and superior fleetness of this anamal which was to me really astonishing.
I had pursued and twice surprised a small herd of seven antilopes.
They took care before they rested to gain an elivated point
where it was impossible to approach them under cover,
except in one direction from which the wind blew towards them.

I made the best of my way towards them.
Peeping over the ridge, I took care to conceal myself from their view.
The male frequently incircled the summit of the hill,
as if to look out for the approach of danger.
I got within 200 paces when they smelt me and fled.
I gained the top of the eminence on which they had stood;
I had an extensive view of the country.

The antilopes which had disappeared in a steep reveene
now appeared at the distance of about three miles.
I doubted at ferst that they were the same that I had just surprised,
but my doubts soon vanished
when I beheld the rapidity of their flight along the ridge before me.
It appeared reather the rappid flight of birds than the motion of quadrupeds.
Track Name: Northern Light
Clark: Fort Mandan, 6th November Tuesday 1804

last night late
we wer awoke by the Sergeant of the Guard
to See a Nothern light,
which was light, not red, and appeared to Darken
and Some times nearly obscured and open,

many times appeared in light Streeks,
and at other times a great Space light
& containing floating collomns which appeared to approach each other
& retreat leaveing the lighter Space
at no time of the Same appearance
Track Name: This Little Fleet
Lewis: Fort Mandan, April 7th 1805.

Our vessels consisted of six small canoes,
and two large perogues.
This little fleet altho' not quite so rispectable
as those of Columbus or Capt. Cook
were still viewed by us with as much pleasure
as those deservedly famed adventurers ever beheld theirs;
and I dare say with quite as much anxiety
for their safety and preservation.
We were now about to penetrate a country
at least two thousand miles in width,
on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden;

the good or evil it had in store for us
was for experiment yet to determine,
and these little vessells contained every article
by which we were to expect to subsist or defend ourselves.

However as the state of mind in which we are,
gives the colouring to events,
when the immagination is suffered to wander into futurity,
the picture which now presented itself to me
was a most pleasing one,
enterta[in]ing as I do,
the most confident hope of succeeding in a voyage
which had formed a da[r]ling project of mine for the last ten years,

I could but esteem this moment of my departure
as among the most happy of my life.
Track Name: The Grizzly Bear
Lewis: Tuesday May 14th 1805.

In the evening the men in two of the rear canoes
discovered a large [grizzly] bear.
[He was] lying in the open grounds
about 300 paces from the river.

Six of them went out to attack him,
[they are] all good hunters;
they took the advantage of a small eminence which concealed them
and got within 40 paces of him unperceived.

Four [of them] fired nearly at the same time
and put each his bullet through him,
two of the [bullets] passed through the bulk
of both lobes of his lungs.

In an instant this monster ran at them
with open mouth,
the two who had reserved their fir[e]s
discharged their pieces at him as he came towards them.

Boath of them struck him, one only slightly,
the other fortunately broke his shoulder,
this however only retarded his motion
for a moment only.

The men unable to reload their guns took to flight,
the bear pursued
and had very nearly overtaken them
before they reached the river.

Two of the party betook themselves to a canoe
and the others seperated
an[d] concealed themselves among the willows,
reloaded their pieces.

Each discharged his piece at him
as they had an opportunity
they struck him several times again
but the guns served only to direct the bear to them.

In this manner he pursued two of them seperately
so close that they were obliged to throw aside their guns
and throw themselves into the river
altho' the bank was nearly twenty feet perpendicular.

So enraged was this anamal
that he [too] plunged into the river
only a few feet behind the second man,
when one of those who remained on shore
shot him through the head
and finally killed him.
Track Name: Runaway Squaw
Clark: 22nd of November Thursday 1804

I was allarmed about 10 oClock by the Sentinal,
who informed that an Indian was about to kill his wife
in the interpeters fire about 60 yards below the works,

I went down and Spoke to the fellow
about the rash act which he was like to commit
and forbid any act of the kind near the fort.

Some missunderstanding took place
between this man & his fife [wife] about 8 days ago,
and She came [here] to this place,
& Continued with the Squars of [our] interpeters,

2 days ago She returned to [her] vill’ge.
[NB: he might lawfully have killed her for running away.]
in the evening of the Same day She came [back] to the interpeters fire
appearently much beat, & Stabed in 3 places.

We Derected that no man of this party have any intercourse
with this woman under the penelty of Punishment.
he the Husband observed that one of our Serjeants Slept with his wife
& if he wanted her he would give her to him,

We derected the Serjeant to give the man Some articles,
at which time I told the Indian that I believed
[that] not one man of the party had [ever] touched his wife
except the one he had given the use of her for a nite,
in his own bed,

[and that] no man of the party Should touch his Squar,
or the wife of any Indian,
nor did I believe they touch a woman
if they knew her to be the wife of another man,
and advised him to take his Squar home
and live hapily together in future.
Track Name: Our Dutifull Children
Clark: 30th of November Friday 1804

This morning at 8 oClock
an Indian called from the other Side [of the river]
and informed that he had Something of Consequence to Communicate.
we Sent a perogue for him & he informed us as follows.

Viz: "five men of the Mandan Nation
out hunting in a S. W. derection
was Suprised by a large party of Seeoux [Sioux] & Panies [Arikaras],
one man was Killed and two wounded with arrows
& 9 Horses taken."

We thought it well to Show a Disposition to ade
and assist them against their enemies,
[so] I crossed the river in about an hour
with 23 men and flankd the Town.

The Indians not expecting to receive Such Strong aide
in So Short a time was much Supprised,
and a littled allarmed at [our] formadable appearence.
I explained to the nation the cause of my comeing
was to assist and Chastise the enemies of our Dutifull Children.

after a conversation of a fiew minits anongst themselves,
one Chief Said they now Saw
that what we hade told them was the trooth,
[we] were ready to protect them,
and kill those who would not listen to our Good talk.

"I knew Said he that the [Arikaras] were liers,
[I] told the old Chief that his people were liers and bad men
and that we killed them like the Buffalow, when we pleased,
we do not want to Kill you,
[but] will not Suffer you to Kill us
we will make peace with you as our two [American] fathers have derected,
but we fear the Ricares [Arikaras] will not be at peace long.”

And he said
"My father those are the words I Spoke to the [Arikara Chief].
You See they have not opened their ears to your good Councils.
My father the Snow is deep and it is cold
our horses Cannot travel thro the plains,
those people who have Spilt our blood have gone back?
if you will go with us in the Spring
we will raise the Warriers around about us, and go with you."

I told this nation that we Should be always willing
and ready to defend them
dureing the time we remain in their neighbourhood,
I was Sorry that the Snow in the Plains
had fallen So Deep
I wished to meet those Seeioux
& all others who will not open their ears, but make war
on our dutifull Children,

the Chief Said they all thanked me verry much
for the fatherly protection which I Showed towards them,
that the Village had been Crying all the night and day
for the death of the brave young man, who fell
but now they would wipe away their tears,
rejoice in their [Great American] fathers protection,
and Cry no more.
Track Name: I Beheld the Rocky Mountains
Lewis: Sunday May 26th 1805

In the after part of the day
I walked out and ascended the river hills
which I found sufficiently fortiegueing.
on arriving to the summit
[of] one of the highest points in the neighbourhood
I thought myself well repaid for my labour;
as from this point I beheld the Rocky Mountains for the first time,

I could only discover
a few of the most elivated points above the horizon,
these points of the Rocky Mountains were covered with snow
and the sun shone on it
in such manner as to give me the most plain and satisfactory view.

while I viewed these mountains
I felt a secret pleasure
in finding myself so near the head
of the heretofore conceived boundless Missouri;
but when I reflected on the difficulties
which this snowey barrier would most probably
throw in my way to the Pacific,
and the sufferings and hardships
of myself and party in them,
it in some measure counterballanced
the joy I had felt in the first moments in which I gazed on them;

but as I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils
I will believe it a good comfortable road
untill I am compelled to believe differently.
Track Name: Sandstone Clifts
Lewis: Friday May 31st 1805.

The hills and river Clifts which we passed today
exhibit a most romantic appearance.
The bluffs of the river rise to the hight of 300 feet
and in most places nearly perpendicular;
they are formed of remarkable white sandstone
which is sufficiently soft to give way readily
to the impression of water;

The water in the course of time
in decending from those hills and plains
on either side of the river
has trickled down the soft sand clifts
and woarn it into a thousand grotesque figures,

which with the help of a little immagination
and an oblique view
at a distance are made to represent
eligant ranges of lofty freestone buildings,
having their parapets well stocked with statuary;

collumns of various sculpture
both grooved and plain,
are seen supporting long galleries
in front of those buildings;
in other places on a much nearer approach
we see the remains or ruins of eligant buildings;

[and] a number of the small martin
which build their nests with clay,
and which were seen hovering
about the tops of the collumns
did not the less remind us
of some of those large stone buildings in the U' States.

the thin stratas of hard freestone
intermixed with the soft sandstone
seems to have aided the water
in forming this curious scenery.
As we passed on it seemed as if
those seens of visionary inchantment
would never have and end;

for here it is too that nature presents
to the view of the traveler
vast ranges of walls of tolerable workmanship,
so perfect indeed that I should have thought
that nature had attempted here
to rival the human art of masonry
had I not recollected that she had first began her work.
Track Name: Shineing Mountains
Lewis: Thursday June 20th 1805.

the Mountains to the N. W. and West of us
are Still entirely Covered
are white and glitter with the reflection of the Sun.

I do not believe that the Clouds that pervale
at this Season of the year
reach the Summits of those lofty mountains;
and if they do the probability is
that they deposit Snow only
for there has been no proceptable diminution
of the Snow which they Contain
Since we first Saw them.

I have thought it probable
that these mountains might have derived
their appellation of Shineing Mountains
from their glittering appearance
when the Sun Shines in certain directions on the Snow
which Cover them.
Track Name: Gates of the Rocky Mountains
Lewis: Friday July 19th 1805

this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen.
these clifts rise from the waters edge on either side
perpendicularly to the hight of 1200 feet.
every object here wears a dark and gloomy aspect.
the tow[er]ing and projecting rocks in many places
seem ready to tumble on us.
the river appears to have forced it's way
through this immence body of solid rock
for the distance of 5¾ Miles
and where it makes it's exit below
has th[r]own on either side
vast collumns of rocks mountains high.
this rock is a black grannite below
and appears to be of a much lighter colour above
and from the fragments I take it to be
flint of a yellowish brown and light creem-coloured yellow.
from the singular appeaerance of this place I called it
the gates of the rocky mountains.
Track Name: Three Forks
Lewis: Sunday July 28th 1805.

Our present camp is precisely on the spot
that the Snake [Shoshone] Indians were encamped
at the time the Minnetares [Hidatsa] of the Knife R.
first [caught] sight of them five years since.

from hence they retreated about three miles up Jeffersons river
and concealed themselves in the woods,
the Minnetares pursued, attacked them,
killed 4 men 4 women [and] a number of boys.

Sah-cah-gar-we-ah our Indian woman
was one of the prisoners taken at that time;
tho' I cannot discover that she shews any immotion of sorrow
in recollecting this event,
or of joy in being restored to her native country;

if she has enough to eat and a few trinkets to wear
I believe she would be perfectly content anywhere.
Track Name: Tab-ba-bone
Lewis: Sunday August 11th, 1805.

The track which we had pursued last evening soon disappeared.
I therefore resolved to proceed to the narrow pass on the creek
in hopes that I should again find the Indian road at the place,
I sent [George] Drewyer to keep near the creek to my right,
[John] Shields to my left, with orders to surch for the road.

After having marched in this order for about five miles
I discovered an Indian on horseback coming down the plain toward us.
With my glass I discovered from his dress
that he was of a different nation from any that we had yet seen,
and was satisfyed of his being a Sosone [Shoshone].

His arms were a bow and quiver of arrows,
and was mounted on an eligant horse without a saddle,
and a small string attatched to the underjaw
answered as a bridle.

I was overjoyed at the sight of this stranger
and had no doubt of obtaining a friendly introduction
provided I could get near enough to him
to convince him of our being whitemen.

He mad[e] a halt which I did also
and unloosing my blanket from my pack,
I mad[e] him the signal of friendship,
which is by holding the [blanket] in your hands at two corners,
th[r]owing [it] up in the air higher than the head
bringing it to the earth as if in the act of spreading it,
thus repeating three times.

This signal had not the desired effect,
he still kept his position
and seemed to view with an air of suspicion
Drewyer an[d] Shields now comiming in[to] sight on either hand,

I wo[u]ld willingly have made them halt
but they were too far distant to hear me
and I feared to make any signal to them.
I therefore haistened to take out of my sack
some b[e]ads a looking glas and a few trinketes
and leaving my gun advanced unarmed towards him.

[When] I arrived in about 200 paces of him
he turn[ed] his ho[r]se about
and began to move off slowly from me;

I now called to him in as loud a voice as I could command
repeating the word tab-ba-bone,
which in their language signifyes white-man.
But lo[o]king over his sholder
he still kept his eye on Drewyer and Sheilds still advancing.

I now made a signal to halt,
Drewyer obeyed but Shields kept on.
The Indian halted again
and turned his ho[r]se about.

I again repepeated the word tab-ba-bone
and held up the trinkits in my hands
and striped up my shirt sleve to [show] him the colour of my skin
but he did not remain.

He suddonly turned his ho[r]se about,
gave him the whip leaped the creek
disapeared in the willow brush in an instant
and with him vanished all my hopes of obtaining horses for the present.
Track Name: Thirty-first Year
Lewis: Sunday August 18th 1805.

This day I completed my thirty first year,
and conceived that I had in all human probability
now existed about half the period
which I am to remain in this Sublunary world.

I reflected that I had as yet done but little,
very little indeed,
to further the hapiness of the human race,
or to advance the information
of the succeeding generation.

I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence,
and now soarly feel the want of that information
which those hours would have given me
had they been judiciously expended.

but since they are past and cannot be recalled,
I dash from me the gloomy thought
and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions
and at least indeavour to promote
those two primary objects of human existence,
by giving them the aid of that portion of talents
which nature and fortune have bestoed on me;

or in future, to live for mankind,
as I have heretofore lived for myself.
Track Name: Ah-hi-e Ah-hi-e
Lewis: Tuesday August 13th 1805.

The road was dusty
and appeared to have been much traveled lately.
We had not continued our rout more than a mile
when we were so fortunate as to meet with three female savages.

The short and steep ravines which we passed
concealed us from each other untill we arrived within 30 paces.
a young woman immediately took to flight,
an Elderly woman and a girl of about 12 years old remained.

I instantly laid by my gun and advanced towards them.
they appeared much allarmed
but saw that we were to near for them to escape by flight.
They therefore seated themselves on the ground,
holding down their heads as if reconciled to die

I took the elderly woman by the hand
and raised her up
repeated the word tab-ba-bone
and strip[ped] up my shirt sleve to s[h]ew her my skin.
They appeared instantly reconciled.

I gave [them] some beads a few mockerson awls
some pewter looking-glasses and a little paint.
I now painted their tawny cheeks with some vermillion
which with this nation is emblematic of peace.

After they had become composed
I informed them by signs
that I wished them to conduct us to their camp.
They readily obeyed and we set out,
still pursuing the road down the river.

We had marched about 2 miles
when we met a party of 60 warriors.
When they arrived I advanced towards them with the flag
leaving my gun with the party.
The women informed them who we were
and exultingly shewed the presents which [we] had given them.

These men then advanced
and embraced me very affectionately in their way
which is by puting their left arm over you wright sholder
clasping your back, while they apply their left cheek to yours
and frequently vociforate the word
âh-hi'-e, âh-hi'-e
that is, I am much pleased, I am much rejoiced.

Bothe parties now advanced
and we wer all carresed and besmeared with their grease and paint
till I was heartily tired of the national hug.
Track Name: In the Bitterroot Mountains
Clark: September 14th Thursday [NB: Saturday] 1805 /
Wednesday [NB: Sunday] Septr. 15th 1805

In the Valies it rained and hailed,
on the top of the mountains Some Snow fell.
We set out early and proceeded on
Down the right Side of [NB: Koos koos kee] River
over Steep points rockey & buschey as usial
for 4 miles to an old Indian fishing place.

Here the road leaves the river to the left
and assends a mountain
winding in every direction
to get up the Steep assents
& to pass the emence quantity of falling timber
which had [been] falling from dift. causes
i e fire & wind.

Several horses Sliped and roled down
[the] Steep hills which hurt them verry much.
The one which Carried my desk & Small trunk
Turned over & roled down a mountain
for 40 yards & lodged against a tree,
broke the Desk the horse escaped
and appeared but little hurt.

After two hours delay
we proceeded on up the mountain
Steep & ruged as usial,
more timber near the top,
when we arrived at the top
As we Conceved we could find no water
and Concluded to Camp
and make use of the Snow we found on the top
to cook the remnt. of our Colt.

[The] evening verry Cold and Cloudy.
[The men] much fatigued
& horses more So
Two of our horses gave out,
pore and too much hurt to proceed on,
nothing killed to day except 2 Phests.

From this mountain I could observe
high ruged mountains in every direction as far as I could See.
Track Name: Ocian in View!
Clark: November 7th Thursday 1805

Ocian in view! O! the joy

Great joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian,
this great Pacific Octean which we been So long anxious to See.

and the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rockey Shores
may be heard disti[n]ctly.
Track Name: Rained All Day
Clark: November 11th Monday 1805

A hard rain all the last night,
dureing the last tide
the logs on which we lay was all on float.

The wind verry high from the S. W.
with most tremendious waves
brakeing with great violence against the Shores.

12 oClock 5 Indians came down in a canoe,
[they] Crossed the river (5 miles wide)
through the highest waves I ever Saw a Small vestles ride.

[It] rained all day.

the great quantites of rain
which has loosened the Stones on the hill Sides,
and the Small Stones fall down upon us,
[and] our canoes at one place at the mercy of the waves,
our baggage in another.

And our Selves and party Scattered on floating logs
and Such dry Spots as can be found on the hill Sides,
and Crivices of the rocks.

12 oClock 5 Indians came down in a canoe,
Those Indians are Certainly the best Canoe navigaters I ever Saw.

[The] rain falling in torrents,
[It] rained all day.