September 3, 1841

Friday, 3rd. Four or 5 Indians came to camp — bought three horses of them.

The previous Saturday they had gone looking for Indians who would sell them horses, but with no success. Now the Indians have the horses and are ready to trade. The usual payment was in powder and ball.

The local Indians—Shoshones—were happy to trade horses, game, or berries for any useful items, especially ammunition. The travelers were still wary of the Indians, because they never knew whether the natives they encountered would be friendly or not. But once they had established a friendly trading relationship, things went well.

Bidwell doesn’t say that he bought a horse, just that some members of the company bought horses. He may have bought a horse from the Indians at this time. Up until this point he did not have his own horse; he had put all his money into a yoke of oxen and he was on foot. But on September 18th his oxen stray and he goes looking for them on horseback, so either he had bought one, or someone loaned him one.

High on Table Top by Jim Norton

For more beautiful paintings, see the Facebook page for Art of the Wild West.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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