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Where is William Clark’s sword?

By Elleda Wilson

EO Media Group

Published on November 16, 2016 12:01AM

Explorer William Clark wrote that he gave a sword to Indians in what is now southeastern Washington state. From there the sword may have made its way to members of the Kathlamet Tribe at modern-day Cathlamet, Washington. Today, the sword’s whereabouts are unknown. Pictured, “Lewis & Clark meeting Yellepit at Wallula,” by Norman Adams, courtesy of the Fort Walla Walla Museum.

Explorer William Clark wrote that he gave a sword to Indians in what is now southeastern Washington state. From there the sword may have made its way to members of the Kathlamet Tribe at modern-day Cathlamet, Washington. Today, the sword’s whereabouts are unknown. Pictured, “Lewis & Clark meeting Yellepit at Wallula,” by Norman Adams, courtesy of the Fort Walla Walla Museum.


The Morning Astorian, Saturday, Nov. 12, 1904, reported, “A sword bearing the name ‘Clark’ on the sheath, and possibly a relic left behind by the famous explorer of 1805, was the principal article in a find of rare historic value unearthed by Gilbert Tufty in a small leather-covered trunk on what is known as the Burrey donation claim, back of Cathlamet.

“The collection is principally of Indian relics and contains coins dated as far back as 1783, both silver and copper. Mr. Tufty, after giving away quite a number of the relics to a friend, is beginning to realize their value, and expects to have them on exhibition at the 1905 fair.

“The trunk was found between two Indian graves, and has probably been buried for 50 years, as it fell to pieces on being removed, and all that could be saved were the brass corners. A large quantity of Hudson’s Bay beads, some delicate chinaware, an earthen mug, which has the appearance at first sight of solid gold, two powder flasks, a large assortment of jewelry, bracelets, etc., were with the sword. There was also a quantity of Indian wampum.

“It is readily understood how the sword, belonging to the pioneer explorer, might have come into possession of the Indians and been deposited with their relics nearly half a century later. The presence of the chest between the two graves seems to indicate Indian origin”

So, did the sword really belong to William Clark of the Corps of Discovery? It is possible. Clark’s journal entry from April 28, 1806, says he gave his personal sword, “100 balls and powder and some small articles” to Chief Yellepit of the Walla Walla Indians (about 300 miles east of Cathlamet) in exchange for a white horse (http://tinyurl.com/wc-sword).

The Washington State Historical Society is unaware of any such artifact.

“We don’t have William Clark’s sword in our collection — I wish we did!” the society’s Lynette Miller said. “I haven’t heard of it being in any other local museum, either.” So, where is it?



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