Although no hostilities with the Indians arose, Lewis and Clark found themselves in trouble in matters of trade. All that the Indians of the West Coast seemed to want were blue beads, and the expedition had already traded all of their blue beads away. Cursing themselves for not bringing more of the beads, which were cheap in the East, Lewis and Clark went to Sacajawea, who selflessly surrendered her belt, which was covered in them. The captains traded these last blue beads for an otter-skin robe, and also paid Sacajawea for her sacrifice. Another trade difficulty arose when many of the Native American girls in the region began coming to the camp trying to trade sex for goods. Lewis and Clark discouraged this, because they feared the expedition would be hit by an epidemic of venereal disease; these same Native girls consorted with sailors who landed on the West Coast. However, as the expedition journals indicate, not all of the members of the expedition heeded their commanders' advice.

Once at the Pacific, it proved difficult to find a campsite. The Columbia's water was now brackish (semi-salty), and fresh, drinkable water became harder to find. But Lewis and Clark were nonetheless very democratic about choosing the site: everyone, including Sacajawea and Clark's African-American servant York, received a vote. Ultimately the point they chose (Clatsop) was on the South Side of the Columbia River, where the animals were more abundant and the hunting better.

Sacajawea put up with the harsh winter without complaining. Her stoicism in accepting misfortune and difficulty without protest impressed Lewis, who called Sacajawea's manner "either philosophy or folly."

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