On November 24, 1805, Lewis and Clark called for a vote on whether they would build a fort for the winter. Clark recorded the vote in his journal. York's vote was counted and recorded. More than 60 years before the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in the United States and allowing freed male slaves to vote, York was given a vote in this decision. Sacagawea's vote was also recorded, more than a hundred years before American women were given the vote.
The fact that York was a slave and Sacagawea a woman did not matter to the others. The two had proved themselevs over and over. The majority of the expedition voted to cross the southern side of the Columbia River and searh for a good fort site. They built Fort Clatsop, named for the Indians of the region.
York was injured in constructing the fort. On December 28, Clark recorded, "York was verry unwell from a violent Coald and Strain by Carrying meet from the woods and lifting the heavy logs of the works." (Spelling original.)
By March, the expeidition was on the move again and paddled their canoes up the Columbia. By late May, they had enough horses and were anxious to start across the Bitterroots. The Nez Perce tribe warned them that the mountain trails were buried under several feet of snow, causing the group to have to wait.
Finding food was a priority. Because he was much respected by the Indians, Yokr was sent on trading missions with them. Lewis and Clark cut the brass buttons from their military uniforms and sent these as barter. York and a man named Hugh McNeal traded the buttons and a few other items for three bushels of edible roots and bread made of lily roots.