Interior of a Chinook House

chinook plank house Interior

Drawing by A. T. Agate, from Charles Wilkes,
Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition (6 vols. 1844-45), 4:341


a medium-sized dog

A. T. Agate, in Wilkes, Narrative of the U.S. Exploring Expedition

The three figures in the lower foreground of Agate's drawing appear to be playing the game Meriwether Lewis described in his journal for February 2, 1806:

One of the games of amusement and risk of the Indians of this neighbourhood, like that of the Shosones, consists in hiding in the hand some small article about the size of a bean. This they throw from one hand to the other with great dexterity accompanying their opperations with a particular song which seems to have been addapted to the game. When the individual who holds the piece has amus-ed himself sufficiently by exchanging it from one hand to the other, he holds out his hands for his competitors to guess which hand contains the piece. If they hit on the hand which contains the peice they win the wager; otherwise they lose. The individual who holds the piece is a kind of banker and plays for the time being against all the others in the room. When he has lost all the property which he has to venture, or thinks proper at any time, he transfers the piece to some other who then also becomes banker.

A similar game was played–and still is–among all Indian peoples in North America.

This dog, drawn by Alfred Agate (1812-1846), who was one of two prominent American artists who accompanied the U.S. Exploring Expedition commanded by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes in 1838-1842, somewhat resembles Lewis's description of the typical dog seen among the Indians in the vicinity of Fort Clatsop. (Moulton, Journals, 16 February 1806.)

The Indian dog is usually small or much more so than the common cur.    they are party coloured [parti-colored; having patches of contrasting color; pied]; black white brown and brindle are the most usual colours.    the head is long and nose pointed eyes small, ears erect and pointed like those of the wolf, hair short and smooth except on the tail where it is as long as that of the curdog and streight.    the natives [Clatsops] do not eat them nor appear to make any other use of them but in hunting the Elk.


Further Reading:

Stewart Culin, Games of the North American Indians: Volume 1, Games of Chance (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992).