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Historic Diaries: James Doty, 1820

Aug. 2, 1820: Carver's Cave and Little Crow's Village

Editor's Note:

Doty resumed regular entries on this day, given at left. Schoolcraft also described the caves: "About twelve miles below the new garrison at St. Peter's, we stopped to examine a remarkable cavern on the east banks of the Mississippi, called Wakon-teebe, by the Narcotah or Sioux Indians, but which, in compliment to the memory of its first European visitor, should be denominated Carver's cave... This cave has been visited by most persons who have passed up the Mississippi, if we may judge from the number of names found upon the walls. Among then we were informed was that of Captain Carver, who visited it in 1768, but we did not observe it..."

He also left more details about Little Crow: "Four miles below Carver's cave, we landed at the village of La Petit Corbeau, or the Little Raven. Here is a Sioux band of twelve lodges, and consisting of about two hundred souls, who plant corn upon the adjoining plain, and cultivate the cucumber, and pumpkin. They sallied from their lodges on seeing us approach, and gathering upon the bank of the river fired a kind offeu-de-joie, and manifested the utmost satisfaction on our landing. La Petit Corbeau was among the first to greet us. He is a man below the common size, but brawny and well proportioned, and although rising of fifty years of age, retains the looks and vigour of forty. There is a great deal of fire in his eyes which are black and piercing -- his nose is prominent and has the aquiline curve, his forehead falling a little from the facial angle, and his whole countenance animated, and expressive of a shrewd mind. .. He acquiesced in the treaty which had lately been concluded with the Chippeways, and was happy that a stop had been put to the effusion of human blood."

Location: modern South St. Paul, Minn.

View Schoolcraft's complete description in his 1821 Narrative

View Doty's handwritten manuscript of this page

View page in the 1895 printed edition

[Doty:] Before 9 this morning we bade the gentlemen of the garrison farewell, and embarked. They had been very polite and attentive to us during our stay… It is 4 & 1/2 miles to a cave generally called "the new Stone house." Several of us entered it 350 yds. With great difficulty, being compelled to creep the whole distance on our knees, and brace up on each side to avoid falling into a stream of water which runs on its bottom, and by which the cave appears to have been formed. In some places its depth could not be ascertained. Some entered the cave 403 yds. and did not find its extremity. About 100 yds. from its mouth it expands into an opening of near 15 by 20 feet, and has the appearance of an arched room… Three & 1/2 miles farther is another cave similar to this, and is called the Stone house. At the mouth of the first cave it is said Carvers name can be traced on the rock and the year in which he visited it. Nothing of this could we find.

Two miles farther is the Little Crow's Village. It has 12 lodges, 10 of them substantially built. The little Crow was absent, but a talk was held with the Chiefs found here, and some presents made. They gave us great quantities of green corn in return. We proceeded on and encamped on the right bank of the Mis. at 1/2 past 6. — Weather clear & warm.

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