Fur trade

Fur trade

Overview

The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur
Fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period
Early modern period
In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the Middle Ages through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions...

 furs of boreal
Boreal ecosystem
The term boreal is usually applied to ecosystems localized in subarctic and subantarctic zones, although Austral is also used for the latter....

, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued. Historically it had a large impact on the exploration and colonization of Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

, northern North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and the South Shetland
South Shetland Islands
The South Shetland Islands are a group of Antarctic islands, lying about north of the Antarctic Peninsula, with a total area of . By the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the Islands' sovereignty is neither recognized nor disputed by the signatories and they are free for use by any signatory for...

 and South Sandwich Islands. Today the importance of fur trade has diminished and is currently centered around fur farms and authorized wildlife hunting, but remains controversial due to the cruelty involved and conflicts with the tourism industry.
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The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur
Fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period
Early modern period
In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the Middle Ages through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions...

 furs of boreal
Boreal ecosystem
The term boreal is usually applied to ecosystems localized in subarctic and subantarctic zones, although Austral is also used for the latter....

, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued. Historically it had a large impact on the exploration and colonization of Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

, northern North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and the South Shetland
South Shetland Islands
The South Shetland Islands are a group of Antarctic islands, lying about north of the Antarctic Peninsula, with a total area of . By the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the Islands' sovereignty is neither recognized nor disputed by the signatories and they are free for use by any signatory for...

 and South Sandwich Islands. Today the importance of fur trade has diminished and is currently centered around fur farms and authorized wildlife hunting, but remains controversial due to the cruelty involved and conflicts with the tourism industry. Several animal rights
Animal rights
Animal rights, also known as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings...

 organizations oppose the fur trade, while supporters often cite their methods as not being cruel, that the animal populations are abundant and their rights to practice a traditional lifestyle should be respected. The use of fur on some items today has been partly substituted by synthetic imitations.

Russian fur trade


Before the colonization of the Americas, Russia was a major supplier of fur-pelts to Western Europe and parts of Asia. Fur was a major Russian export as trade developed in the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 ( 500-1000 AD/CE ), first through the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

s. With the development of railways, Russia traded through the German city of Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

. In 1950 it came to an abrupt stop.

Originally, Russia exported a majority in raw furs of the pelts of marten
Marten
The martens constitute the genus Martes within the subfamily Mustelinae, in family Mustelidae.-Description:Martens are slender, agile animals, adapted to living in taigas, and are found in coniferous and northern deciduous forests across the northern hemisphere. They have bushy tails, and large...

s, beaver
Beaver
The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

s, wolves, fox
Fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

es, squirrel
Squirrel
Squirrels belong to a large family of small or medium-sized rodents called the Sciuridae. The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots , flying squirrels, and prairie dogs. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa and have been introduced to Australia...

s and hare
Hare
Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Lepus. Hares less than one year old are called leverets. Four species commonly known as types of hare are classified outside of Lepus: the hispid hare , and three species known as red rock hares .Hares are very fast-moving...

s. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, Russians tamed Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

, a region rich in many mammal species, such as Arctic fox
Arctic fox
The arctic fox , also known as the white fox, polar fox or snow fox, is a small fox native to Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and is common throughout the Arctic tundra biome. The Greek word alopex, means a fox and Vulpes is the Latin version...

, lynx
Lynx
A lynx is any of the four Lynx genus species of medium-sized wildcats. The name "lynx" originated in Middle English via Latin from Greek word "λύγξ", derived from the Indo-European root "*leuk-", meaning "light, brightness", in reference to the luminescence of its reflective eyes...

, sable
Sable
The sable is a species of marten which inhabits forest environments, primarily in Russia from the Ural Mountains throughout Siberia, in northern Mongolia and China and on Hokkaidō in Japan. Its range in the wild originally extended through European Russia to Poland and Scandinavia...

, sea otter
Sea Otter
The sea otter is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg , making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals...

 and stoat (ermine
Ermine
Ermine has several uses:* A common name for the stoat * The white fur and black tail end of this animal, which is historically worn by and associated with royalty and high officials...

). In the search for the prized sea otter
Sea Otter
The sea otter is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg , making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals...

 (pelts first used in China), and, later the northern fur seal
Northern Fur Seal
The Northern fur seal is an eared seal found along the north Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. It is the largest member of the fur seal subfamily and the only species in the genus Callorhinus.-Physical description:Northern fur seals have extreme sexual dimorphism, with males...

, the Russian Empire expanded into North America, notably Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

. Between the 17th and second half of the 19th century, Russia was the largest supplier of fur in the world. The fur trade played a vital role in the development of Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

, the Russian Far East
Russian Far East
Russian Far East is a term that refers to the Russian part of the Far East, i.e., extreme east parts of Russia, between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean...

 and the Russian colonization of the Americas
Russian colonization of the Americas
The Russian colonization of the Americas covers the period, from 1732 to 1867, when the Tsarist Imperial Russian Empire laid claim to northern Pacific Coast territories in the Americas...

. To this day sable is a regional symbol of Ural Sverdlovsk oblast
Sverdlovsk Oblast
Sverdlovsk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia located in the Urals Federal District. Its administrative center is the city of Yekaterinburg formerly known as Sverdlovsk. Population: -Geography:...

 and Siberian Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk Oblast
Novosibirsk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia located in southwestern Siberia. Its administrative and economic center is the city of Novosibirsk. Population: -Overview:...

, Tyumen
Tyumen Oblast
Tyumen Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Tyumen. The oblast has administrative jurisdiction over two autonomous okrugs—Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Tyumen is the largest city, with over half a million inhabitants...

 and Irkutsk
Irkutsk Oblast
Irkutsk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia , located in southeastern Siberia in the basins of Angara River, Lena, and Nizhnyaya Tunguska Rivers. The administrative center is the city of Irkutsk. Population: -History:...

 oblast
Oblast
Oblast is a type of administrative division in Slavic countries, including some countries of the former Soviet Union. The word "oblast" is a loanword in English, but it is nevertheless often translated as "area", "zone", "province", or "region"...

s of Russia.
The European discovery of North America, with its vast forest
Forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

s and wildlife
Wildlife
Wildlife includes all non-domesticated plants, animals and other organisms. Domesticating wild plant and animal species for human benefit has occurred many times all over the planet, and has a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative....

, particularly the beaver, led to the continent becoming a major supplier in the 17th century of fur pelts for the fur-felt
Felt
Felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing woollen fibres. While some types of felt are very soft, some are tough enough to form construction materials. Felt can be of any colour, and made into any shape or size....

 hat and fur trimming and garment trades of Europe. Fur was a major source of warmth in clothing, critical prior to the organization of coal distribution.
Portugal also held a big part in fur trading around the 1400s.

North American fur trade



The North American fur trade was a central part of the early history of contact
European colonization of the Americas
The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492. The first Europeans to reach the Americas were the Vikings during the 11th century, who established several colonies in Greenland and one short-lived settlement in present day Newfoundland...

 between European-Americans and the native peoples of what is now the United States
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 and Canada
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

. In 1578 there were 350 European fishing vessels at Newfoundland. Sailors began to trade metal implements (particularly knives) for the natives' well-worn pelts. The pelts in demand were beaver, sea otter and (in the 1870s) buffalo, as well as occasionally deer, bear, ermine and skunk.

Fur robes were blankets of sewn-together, native-tanned, beaver pelts. The pelts were called castor gras in French and "coat beaver" in English, and were soon recognized by the newly developed felt-hat making industry as particularly useful for felting. Some historians, seeking to explain the term castor gras, have assumed that coat beaver was rich in human oils from having been worn so long (much of the top-hair was worn away through usage, exposing the valuable under-wool), and that this is what made it attractive to the hatters. This seems unlikely, since grease interferes with the felting of wool, rather than enhancing it. By the 1580s, beaver "wool" was the major starting material of the French felt-hatters. Hat makers began to use it in England soon after, particularly after Huguenot refugees brought their skills and tastes with them from France.

Early organization


Captain Chauvin made the first organized attempt to control the fur trade in New France
New France
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

. In 1599 he acquired a monopoly
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 from Henry IV
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

 and tried to establish a colony at the mouth of the Saguenay River
Saguenay River
The Saguenay River is a major river of Quebec, Canada.It drains Lac Saint-Jean in the Laurentian Highlands, leaving at Alma and running east, and passes the city of Saguenay. It drains into the Saint Lawrence River at Tadoussac....

 (Tadoussac, Quebec
Tadoussac, Quebec
Tadoussac is a village in Quebec, Canada, at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Saguenay rivers. It was France's first trading post on the mainland of New France and an important trading post in the seventeenth century, making it the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in...

). French explorers (and Coureur des bois
Coureur des bois
A coureur des bois or coureur de bois was an independent entrepreneurial French-Canadian woodsman who traveled in New France and the interior of North America. They travelled in the woods to trade various things for fur....

Étienne Brûlé
Étienne Brûlé
Étienne Brûlé , was the first of European French explorers to journey along the St. Lawrence River with the Native Americans and to view Georgian Bay and Lake Huron Canada in the 17th century. A rugged outdoorsman, he took to the lifestyle of the First Nations and had a unique contribution to the...

, Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain , "The Father of New France", was a French navigator, cartographer, draughtsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. He founded New France and Quebec City on July 3, 1608....

, Radisson
Pierre-Esprit Radisson
Pierre-Esprit Radisson was a French-Canadian fur trader and explorer. He is often linked to his brother-in-law Médard des Groseilliers who was about 20 years older. The decision of Radisson and Groseilliers to enter the English service led to the formation of the Hudson's Bay Company.Born near...

, La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, or Robert de LaSalle was a French explorer. He explored the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico...

, Le Saeur
Pierre-Charles Le Sueur
Pierre-Charles Le Sueur was a French fur trader and explorer in North America, recognized as the first known European to explore the Minnesota River valley....

), while seeking routes through the continent, established relationships with Amerindians and continued to expand the trade of fur pelts for items considered 'common' by the Europeans. Mammal winter pelts were prized for warmth, particularly animal pelts for beaver wool-felt hats, which were an expensive status symbol in Europe. The demand for these beaver wool-felt hats was such that the beaver in Europe and European Russia had largely disappeared through exploitation.

In 1613 Dallas Carite and Adriaen Block
Adriaen Block
Adriaen Block was a Dutch private trader and navigator who is best known for exploring the coastal and river valley areas between present-day New Jersey and Massachusetts during four voyages from 1611 to 1614, following the 1609 expedition by Henry Hudson...

 headed expeditions to establish fur trade relationships with the Mohawks and Mohicans. By 1614 the Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 were sending vessels to secure large economic returns from fur trading. The fur trade of New Netherland, through the port of New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam was a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement that served as the capital of New Netherland. It later became New York City....

, depended largely on the trading depot at Fort Orange
Fort Orange
Fort Orange was the first permanent Dutch settlement in New Netherland and was on the site of the present-day city of Albany, New York. It was a replacement for Fort Nassau, which had been built on nearby Castle Island in the Hudson River, and which served as a trading post until 1617 or 1618,...

 (now Albany), where much of the fur is believed to have originated in Canada, smuggled by entrepreneurs who wished to avoid the government-imposed monopoly there.

England was slower to enter the American fur trade than France and Holland, but as soon as English colonies were established, it was discovered that furs provided the best way for the colonists to remit value back to the mother country. Furs were being dispatched from Virginia soon after 1610, and the Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony was an English colonial venture in North America from 1620 to 1691. The first settlement of the Plymouth Colony was at New Plymouth, a location previously surveyed and named by Captain John Smith. The settlement, which served as the capital of the colony, is today the modern town...

 was sending substantial amounts of beaver to its London agents through the 1620s and 1630s. London merchants also made attempts to take over France's fur trade in the St Lawrence. Taking advantage of one of England's brief wars with France, Sir David Kirke captured Quebec in 1629, and brought the year's produce of furs back to London. Other English merchants also traded for furs in the St. Lawrence in the 1630s, but these were officially discouraged, and soon ceased as France strengthened its presence in Canada. Meanwhile, the New England fur trade expanded, not only inland, but northwards along the coast into the Bay of Fundy region. London's access to high quality furs was greatly increased with the capture of New Amsterdam, whereupon the fur trade of that colony (now called New York) fell into English hands.

The English fur trade entered a new phase in 1668. Two French citizens, Radisson
Pierre-Esprit Radisson
Pierre-Esprit Radisson was a French-Canadian fur trader and explorer. He is often linked to his brother-in-law Médard des Groseilliers who was about 20 years older. The decision of Radisson and Groseilliers to enter the English service led to the formation of the Hudson's Bay Company.Born near...

 and Groseilliers
Médard des Groseilliers
Médard Chouart des Groseilliers was a French explorer and fur trader in Canada. He is often paired with his brother-in-law Pierre-Esprit Radisson who was about 20 years his junior...

, had traded with great success west of Lake Superior in 1659-60, but upon their return to Canada most of their furs had been seized by the authorities. Their trading voyage had convinced them that the best fur country was far to the north and west, and could best be reached by ships sailing into Hudson Bay; and their treatment in Canada suggested that they would not find support for their scheme from France. They first went to New England, where they were able to find local support for at least two attempts to reach Hudson Bay, both unsuccessful. Their ideas had reached the ears of English authorities, however, and in 1665 Radisson and Groseilliers were persuaded to go to London. After some setbacks, a number of English investors were found to back another attempt for Hudson Bay. Two ships were sent out in 1668. One, with Radisson aboard, had to turn back, but the other, the Nonsuch
Nonsuch
Nonsuch may refer to:*Nonsuch House, 1579, on London Bridge*Nonsuch Palace, an English royal palace built by Henry VIII in what is now Surrey*Nonsuch Park, a public park in the London Borough of Sutton, part of the larger park associated with the palace...

, with Groseilliers, did penetrate the Bay. There, trading natives were contacted, a fine cargo of beaver skins was collected, and the expedition returned to London in October 1669. The delighted investors now sought a royal charter, which was obtained the next year. By it, the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 was established, and was granted a monopoly to trade into all the rivers that fall into Hudson Bay. From 1670 onwards, the Hudson's Bay Company sent two or three ships into the Bay every year, brought back furs (mainly beaver), and sold them, sometimes by private treaty but usually by public auction. The beaver was bought mainly for the English hat-making trade, while the fine furs went to Holland and Germany.

Meanwhile, in the English southern colonies (established around 1670), the deerskin trade
Deerskin trade
The deerskin trade between Colonial America and the Native Americans was one of the most important trading relationships between Europeans and Native Americans, especially in the southeast. It was a form of the fur trade, but less known, since deer skins were not as valuable as furs from the north...

 was established based on the export hub of Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

. Word spread amongst Native hunters that the Europeans would exchange pelts for European-manufactured goods that were highly desired in native communities. Axe heads, knives, awls, fish hooks, cloth of various type and color, woolen blankets, linen shirts, kettles, jewelry, glass beads, musket
Musket
A musket is a muzzle-loaded, smooth bore long gun, fired from the shoulder. Muskets were designed for use by infantry. A soldier armed with a musket had the designation musketman or musketeer....

s, ammunition and powder were some of the major items exchanged on a 'per pelt' basis.

Colonial trading posts in the southern colonies also introduced many types of alcohol (especially brandy and rum) for trade. European traders flocked to the continent and made huge profits off the exchange. A metal axe head, for example, was exchanged for one beaver pelt (also called a 'beaver blanket'). The same pelt could fetch enough to buy dozens of axe heads in England, making the fur trade extremely profitable for the European nations. The iron axe heads replaced stone axe heads which the natives made by hand in a labor-intensive process, so they derived substantial benefits from the trade as well.

Socio-economic ties



Often, the political benefits of the fur trade became more important than the economic aspects. Trade was a way to forge alliances and maintain good relations between different cultures. The fur traders, men of social and financial standing, usually went to North America as young single men and used marriages as the currency of diplomatic ties, marriages and relationships between Europeans and First Nations/Native Americans became common. Traders often married or cohabited with high-ranking Indian women. Fur trappers and other workers usually had relationships with lower ranking women. Many of their children developed their own culture, now called Métis. Their descendants of mixed European and Native American parentage developed their own language and culture. They have been recognized as an ethnic group in Canada. These groups formed a two-tier society, in which descendants of fur traders and chiefs achieved prominence in social and economic circles. Lower-class descendants formed the majority of a separate Métis culture based on hunting, trapping and farming.

Because of the wealth at stake, different European-American governments competed with each other for control of the fur trade with the various native societies. Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 sometimes based decisions of which side to support in time of war upon which side provided them with the best trade goods in an honest manner. Because trade was so politically important, it was often heavily regulated in hopes (often futile) of preventing abuse. Unscrupulous traders sometimes cheated natives by plying them with alcohol during the transaction, which subsequently aroused resentment and often resulted in violence.

In 1834 John Jacob Astor
John Jacob Astor
John Jacob Astor , born Johann Jakob Astor, was a German-American business magnate and investor who was the first prominent member of the Astor family and the first multi-millionaire in the United States...

, who had created the Pacific Fur Company
Pacific Fur Company
The Pacific Fur Company was founded June 23, 1810, in New York City. Half of the stock of the company was held by the American Fur Company, owned exclusively by John Jacob Astor, and Astor provided all of the capital for the enterprise. The other half of the stock was ascribed to working partners...

, which became the largest American fur trading company
American Fur Company
The American Fur Company was founded by John Jacob Astor in 1808. The company grew to monopolize the fur trade in the United States by 1830, and became one of the largest businesses in the country. The company was one the first great trusts in American business...

, retired after recognizing that all fur-bearing animals were becoming scarce. Expanding European settlement displaced native communities from the best hunting grounds. Demand for furs subsided as European fashion trends shifted. The Native Americans' lifestyles were altered by the trade. To continue obtaining European goods on which they had become dependent and to pay off their debts, they often resorted to selling land to the European settlers. Their resentment of the forced sales contributed to future wars.

After the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 became independent, it regulated trading with Native Americans by the Indian Intercourse Act
Indian Intercourse Act
The Nonintercourse Act is the collective name given to six statutes passed by the United States Congress in 1790, 1793, 1796, 1799, 1802, and 1834. The Act regulates commerce between Native Americans and non-Indians...

, first passed on July 22, 1790. The Bureau of Indian Affairs
Bureau of Indian Affairs
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is an agency of the federal government of the United States within the US Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the administration and management of of land held in trust by the United States for Native Americans in the United States, Native American...

 issued licenses to trade in the Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

. In 1834 this was defined as most of the United States west of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, where mountain men and traders from Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 freely operated.

Early exploration parties were often fur-trading expeditions, many of which marked the first recorded instances of Europeans' reaching particular regions of North America. For example, Abraham Wood
Abraham Wood
Abraham Wood , sometimes referred to as "General" or "Colonel" Wood, was an English fur trader and explorer of 17th century colonial Virginia...

 sent fur-trading parties on exploring expeditions into the southern Appalachian Mountains, discovering the New River in the process. Simon Fraser
Simon Fraser (explorer)
Simon Fraser was a fur trader and an explorer who charted much of what is now the Canadian province of British Columbia. Fraser was employed by the Montreal-based North West Company. By 1805, he had been put in charge of all the company's operations west of the Rocky Mountains...

 was a fur trader who explored much of the Fraser River
Fraser River
The Fraser River is the longest river within British Columbia, Canada, rising at Fraser Pass near Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains and flowing for , into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver. It is the tenth longest river in Canada...

.

The fur trade and economic anthropology


Economic historians and anthropologists have studied the fur trade's important role in early North American economies, but they have been unable to agree on a theoretical framework to describe native economic patterns.

John C. Phillips and J.W. Smurr tied the fur trade to an imperial struggle for power, positing that the fur trade served both as an incentive for expanding and as a method for maintaining dominance. Dismissing the experience of individuals, the authors searched for connections on a global stage that revealed its “high political and economic importance.” E.E. Rich brought the economic purview down a level, focusing on the role of trading companies and their men as the ones who “opened up” much of Canada’s territories instead of the role of the nation-state in opening up the continent.

Rich’s other work gets to the heart of the formalist/substantivist debate that dominated the field or, as some came to believe, muddied it. Historians such as Harold Innis had long taken the formalist position, especially in Canadian history, believing that neoclassical economic principles affect non-Western societies just as they do Western ones. Starting in the 1950s, however, substantivists such as Karl Polanyi challenged these ideas, arguing instead that primitive societies could engage in alternatives to traditional Western market trade; namely, gift trade and administered trade. Rich picked up these arguments in an influential article in which he contended that Indians had “a persistent reluctance to accept European notions or the basic values of the European approach” and that “English economic rules did not apply to the Indian trade.” Indians were savvy traders, but they had a fundamentally different conception of property, which confounded their European trade partners. Abraham Rotstein subsequently fit these arguments explicitly into Polanyi’s theoretical framework, claiming that “administered trade was in operation at the Bay and market trade in London.”

Arthur J. Ray permanently changed the direction of economic studies of the fur trade with two influential works that presented a modified formalist position in between the extremes of Innis and Rotstein. “This trading system,” Ray explained, “is impossible to label neatly as ‘gift trade', or ‘administered trade', or ‘market trade', since it embodies elements of all these forms.” Indians engaged in trade for a variety of motivations. Reducing these to simple economic or cultural dichotomies, as the formalists and substantivists had done, was a fruitless simplification that obscured more than it revealed. Moreover, Ray used trade accounts and account books in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s archives for masterful qualitative analysis and pushed the boundaries of the field’s methodology. Following Ray’s position, Bruce M. White also helped to create a more nuanced picture of the complex ways in which native populations fit new economic relationships into existing cultural patterns.

Richard White, while admitting that the formalist/substantivist debate was “old, and now tired,” attempted to reinvigorate the substantivist position. Echoing Ray’s moderate position that cautioned against easy simplifications, White advanced a simple argument against formalism: “Life was not a business, and such simplifications only distort the past.” White argued instead that the fur trade occupied part of a “middle ground” in which Europeans and Indians sought to accommodate their cultural differences. In the case of the fur trade, this meant that the French were forced to learn from the political and cultural meanings with which Indians imbued the fur trade. Cooperation, not domination, prevailed.

Present


There are about 80,000 trappers in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 (based on trapping licenses), of whom about half are Indigenous peoples.

Maritime Fur Trade


The Maritime Fur Trade was a ship-based fur trade system that focused on acquiring furs of sea otter
Sea Otter
The sea otter is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg , making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals...

s and other animals from the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast
Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast
The Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, their descendants, and many ethnic groups who identify with those historical peoples. They are now situated within the Canadian Province of British Columbia and the U.S...

 and natives of Alaska
Alaska Natives
Alaska Natives are the indigenous peoples of Alaska. They include: Aleut, Inuit, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures.-History:In 1912 the Alaska Native Brotherhood was founded...

. The furs were mostly sold in China in exchange for tea, silks, porcelain, and other Chinese goods, which were then sold in Europe and the United States. The maritime fur trade was pioneered by the Russians, working east from Kamchatka along the Aleutian Islands to the southern coast of Alaska. British and Americans entered during the 1780s, focusing on what is now the coast of British Columbia
British Columbia Coast
The British Columbia Coast or BC Coast is Canada's western continental coastline on the Pacific Ocean. The usage is synonymous with the term West Coast of Canada....

. The trade boomed around the turn of the 19th century. A long period of decline began in the 1810s. As the sea otter population was depleted, the maritime fur trade diversified and transformed, tapping new markets and commodities while continuing to focus on the Northwest Coast and China. It lasted until the middle to late 19th century. Russians controlled most of the coast of what is now Alaska during the entire era. The coast south of Alaska saw fierce competition between, and among, British and American trading vessels. The British were the first to operate in the southern sector, but were unable to compete against the Americans who dominated from the 1790s to the 1830s. The British Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 entered the coast trade in the 1820s with the intention of driving the Americans away. This was accomplished by about 1840. In its late period the maritime fur trade was largely conducted by the British Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 and the Russian-American Company
Russian-American Company
The Russian-American Company was a state-sponsored chartered company formed largely on the basis of the so-called Shelekhov-Golikov Company of Grigory Shelekhov and Ivan Larionovich Golikov The Russian-American Company (officially: Under His Imperial Majesty's Highest Protection (patronage)...

.

The term "maritime fur trade" was coined by historians to distinguish the coastal, ship-based fur trade from the continental, land-based fur trade of, for example, the North West Company
North West Company
The North West Company was a fur trading business headquartered in Montreal from 1779 to 1821. It competed with increasing success against the Hudson's Bay Company in what was to become Western Canada...

 and American Fur Company
American Fur Company
The American Fur Company was founded by John Jacob Astor in 1808. The company grew to monopolize the fur trade in the United States by 1830, and became one of the largest businesses in the country. The company was one the first great trusts in American business...

. Historically, the maritime fur trade was not known by that name, rather it was usually called the "North West Coast trade" or "North West Trade". The term "North West" was rarely spelled as the single word "Northwest", as is common today.

The maritime fur trade brought the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

 coast into a vast, new international trade
International trade
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product...

 network, centered on the north Pacific Ocean, global in scope, and based on capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 but not, for the most part, on colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

. A triangular trade
Triangular trade
Triangular trade, or triangle trade, is a historical term indicating among three ports or regions. Triangular trade usually evolves when a region has export commodities that are not required in the region from which its major imports come...

 network emerged linking the Pacific Northwest coast, China, the Hawaiian Islands
Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaii in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll...

 (only recently discovered by the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

), Britain, and the United States (especially New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

). The trade had a major effect on the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest coast, especially the Aleut, Tlingit, Haida, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Chinook peoples. There was a rapid increase of wealth among the Northwest Coast natives, along with increased warfare, potlatch
Potlatch
A potlatch is a gift-giving festival and primary economic system practiced by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and United States. This includes Heiltsuk Nation, Haida, Nuxalk, Tlingit, Makah, Tsimshian, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw, and Coast Salish cultures...

ing, slaving, depopulation due to epidemic
Epidemic
In epidemiology, an epidemic , occurs when new cases of a certain disease, in a given human population, and during a given period, substantially exceed what is expected based on recent experience...

 disease, and enhanced importance of totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

s and traditional nobility crests. The indigenous culture was not overwhelmed however but rather flourished, while simultaneously undergoing rapid change. The use of Chinook Jargon
Chinook Jargon
Chinook Jargon originated as a pidgin trade language of the Pacific Northwest, and spread during the 19th century from the lower Columbia River, first to other areas in modern Oregon and Washington, then British Columbia and as far as Alaska, sometimes taking on characteristics of a creole language...

 arose during the maritime fur trading era and remains a distinctive aspect of Pacific Northwest culture. Native Hawaiian society was similarly affected by the sudden influx of Western wealth and technology, as well as epidemic diseases. The trade's effect on China and Europe was minimal. For New England, the maritime fur trade and the significant profits it made helped revitalize the region, contributing to the transformation of New England from an agrarian to an industrial society. The wealth generated by the maritime fur trade was invested in industrial development, especially textile manufacturing
Textile manufacturing
Textile manufacturing is a major industry. It is based in the conversion of three types of fibre into yarn, then fabric, then textiles. These are then fabricated into clothes or other artifacts. Cotton remains the most important natural fibre, so is treated in depth...

. The New England textile industry in turn had a large effect on slavery in the United States, increasing the demand for cotton and helping make possible the rapid expansion of the cotton plantation system across the Deep South
Deep South
The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period...

.

The most profitable furs were those of sea otter
Sea Otter
The sea otter is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg , making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals...

s, especially the northern sea otter, Enhydra lutris kenyoni, which inhabited the coastal waters between the Columbia River
Columbia River
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state...

 to the south and Cook Inlet
Cook Inlet
Cook Inlet stretches from the Gulf of Alaska to Anchorage in south-central Alaska. Cook Inlet branches into the Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm at its northern end, almost surrounding Anchorage....

 to the north. The fur of the Californian southern sea otter, E. l. nereis, was less highly prized and thus less profitable. After the northern sea otter was hunted to local extinction
Local extinction
Local extinction, also known as extirpation, is the condition of a species which ceases to exist in the chosen geographic area of study, though it still exists elsewhere...

, maritime fur traders shifted to California until the southern sea otter was likewise nearly extinct. The British and American maritime fur traders took their furs to the Chinese port of Guangzhou
Guangzhou
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

 (Canton), where they worked within the established Canton System
Canton System
The Canton System served as a means for China to control trade with the west within its own country. Seen from the European view, it was a complement to the Old China Trade.-History:...

. Furs from Russian America were mostly sold to China via the Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

n trading town of Kyakhta
Kyakhta
Kyakhta is a town in the Republic of Buryatia, Russia, located on the Kyakhta River near the Russian-Mongolian border. Population: The town stands directly opposite the Mongolian border town of Altanbulag.-History:...

, which had been opened to Russian trade by the 1727 Treaty of Kyakhta.

See also


  • Beaver Wars
    Beaver Wars
    The Beaver Wars, also sometimes called the Iroquois Wars or the French and Iroquois Wars, commonly refers to a series of conflicts fought in the mid-17th century in eastern North America...

  • Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade
    The Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade
    The Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade or CAFT is an informal international coalition of grassroots groups that campaign against the production and use of animal fur for clothing and other items. It started in the USA in the 1990s, when fur farms were being raided quite regularly...

  • Coureurs de bois and voyageurs
  • Fur brigade
    Fur brigade
    The Fur brigade were convoys of Canadian Indian fur trappers who traveled between their home trading posts and a larger HBC post in order to supply the inland post with goods and supply the HBC post with furs. Travel was usually done on the rivers by canoe or, in certain prairie situations, by horse...

  • Harold Innis and the Canadian fur trade
    Harold Innis and the fur trade
    Harold Adams Innis was a professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on Canadian economic history and on media and communication theory...

  • History of Siberia
    History of Siberia
    The early history of Siberia is greatly influenced by the sophisticated nomadic civilizations of the Scythians and Xiongnu , both flourishing before the Christian era. The steppes of South Siberia saw a succession of nomadic empires, including the Turkic Empire and the Mongol Empire...

  • Hudson's Bay Company
    Hudson's Bay Company
    The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

  • List of fur trading post and forts in North America
  • Manuel Lisa
    Manuel Lisa
    Manuel Lisa, also known as Manuel de Lisa , was a Spanish-American fur trader, explorer, and United States Indian agent. He was among the founders in St. Louis of the Missouri Fur Company, an early fur trading company...

  • Maritime Fur Trade
    Maritime Fur Trade
    The Maritime Fur Trade was a ship-based fur trade system that focused on acquiring furs of sea otters and other animals from the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and natives of Alaska. The furs were mostly sold in China in exchange for tea, silks, porcelain, and other Chinese...

  • Mountain men
  • North West Company
    North West Company
    The North West Company was a fur trading business headquartered in Montreal from 1779 to 1821. It competed with increasing success against the Hudson's Bay Company in what was to become Western Canada...

  • Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye
    Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye
    Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye was a French Canadian military officer, fur trader and explorer. In the 1730s he and his four sons opened up the area west of Lake Superior and thus began the process that added Western Canada to the original New France in the Saint Lawrence basin...

  • René Auguste Chouteau
    René Auguste Chouteau
    Rene Auguste Chouteau , also known as Auguste Chouteau, was founder of St. Louis, Missouri, a successful fur trader and a politician. He and his partner had a monopoly for many years of fur trade with the large Osage tribe on the Missouri River...

  • Rocky Mountain Fur Company
    Rocky Mountain Fur Company
    The Rocky Mountain Fur Company, sometimes called Ashley's Hundred, was organized in St. Louis, Missouri in 1823 by General William H. Ashley and Major Andrew Henry . They posted advertisements in St. Louis newspapers seeking "One Hundred enterprising young men . ....

  • Russian-American Company
    Russian-American Company
    The Russian-American Company was a state-sponsored chartered company formed largely on the basis of the so-called Shelekhov-Golikov Company of Grigory Shelekhov and Ivan Larionovich Golikov The Russian-American Company (officially: Under His Imperial Majesty's Highest Protection (patronage)...

  • Science and technology in Canada
    Science and technology in Canada
    Science and technology in Canada consists of three distinct but closely related phenomena:* the diffusion of technology in Canada,* scientific research in Canada* innovation, invention and industrial research in Canada...

  • Sea Mink
    Sea Mink
    The Sea Mink, Neovison macrodon, is an extinct North American member of the family Mustelidae. It is the only mustelid, and one of only two terrestrial mammal species in the order Carnivora, to become extinct in historic times . The body of the sea mink was significantly longer than that of the...

  • Trapping


General Surveys

  • Chittenden, Hiram Martin. The American Fur Trade of the Far West: A History of the Pioneer Trading Posts and Early Fur Companies of the Missouri Valley and the Rocky Mountains and the Overland Commerce with Santa Fe. 2 vols. (1902). full text online
  • Dolan, Eric Jay, Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010).
  • Phillips, Paul and J.W. Smurr, The Fur Trade, 2 vols. (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961).

Biographies

  • Berry, Don. A Majority of Scoundrels: An Informal History of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. New York: Harper, 1961.
  • Hafen, LeRoy
    LeRoy R. Hafen
    LeRoy Reuben Hafen was a historian of the American West and a Latter-day Saint. For many years he was a professor of history at Brigham Young University .-Biography:...

    , ed. The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West. 10 vols. Glendale, California: A.H. Clark Co., 1965-72.
  • Lavender, David. Bent’s Fort. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1954.
  • Lavender, David. The Fist in the Wilderness. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1964.
  • Oglesby, Richard. Manuel Lisa and the Opening of the Missouri Fur Trade. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963.
  • Utley, Robert. A Life Wild and Perilous: Mountain Men and the Paths to the Pacific. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997.

Economic Studies

  • Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983.
  • Gibson, James R. Otter Skins, Boston Ships, and China Goods: The Maritime Fur Trade of the Northwest Coast, 1785-1841. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992.
  • Innis, Harold. The Fur Trade in Canada. Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1962.
  • Ray, Arthur J., and Donald B. Freeman. "Give Us Good Measure": An Economic Analysis of Relations between the Indians and the Hudson's Bay Company Before 1763. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978.
  • Ray, Arthur J. Indians in the Fur Trade: Their Role as Trappers, Hunters, and Middlemen in the Lands Southwest of Hudson Bay, 1660-1870. Toronto; Buffalo; London: University of Toronto Press, 1974.
  • Rotstein, Abraham. “Karl Polanyi’s Concept of Non-Market Trade.” The Journal of Economic History 30:1 (Mar., 1970): 117-126.
  • Rich, E.E. The Fur Trade and the Northwest to 1857. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1967.
  • Rich, E.E. “Trade Habits and Economic Motivation Among the Indians of North America.” The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 26:1 (Feb., 1960): 35-53.
  • White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • White, Richard. The Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment, and Social Change Among the Choctaws, Pawnees, and Navajos. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1983.

Social Histories: Native Americans

  • Brown, Jennifer S.H. and Elizabeth Vibert, eds. Reading Beyond Words: Contexts for Native History. Peterborough, Ontario; Orchard Park, N.Y.: Broadview Press, 1996.
  • Francis, Daniel and Toby Morantz. Partners in Furs: A History of the Fur Trade in Eastern James Bay, 1600-1870. Kingston; Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1983.
  • Holm, Bill and Thomas Vaughan, eds. Soft Gold: The Fur Trade & Cultural Exchange on the Northwest Coast of America. Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1990.
  • Krech, Shepard III. The Ecological Indian: Myth and History. New York; London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999.
  • Krech, Shepard III, ed. Indians, Animals, and the Fur Trade: A Critique of Keepers of the Game. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1981.
  • Martin, Calvin. Keepers of the Game: Indian-Animal Relationships and the Fur Trade. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press, 1978.
  • Martin, Calvin. “The Four Lives of a Micmac Copper Pot.” Ethnohistory 22:2 (Spring, 1975): 111-133.
  • Malloy, Mary. Souvenirs of the Fur Trade: Northwest Coast Indian Art and Artifacts Collected by American Mariners, 1788-1844. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Peabody Museum Press, 2000.
  • Vibert, Elizabeth. Trader’s Tales: Narratives of Cultural Encounters in the Columbia Plateau, 1807-1846. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Social Histories: Women, Métis, Voyageurs

  • Brown, Jennifer S.H. Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country. Vancouver; London: University of British Columbia Press, 1980.
  • Brown, Jennifer S.H. and Jacqueline Peterson, eds. The New Peoples: Being and Becoming Métis in North America. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1985.
  • Giraud, Marcel. The Métis in the Canadian West. Translated by George Woodcock. Edmonton, Canada: University of Alberta Press, 1986.
  • Nicks, John. “Orkneymen in the HBC, 1780-1821.” In Old Trails and New Directions: Papers of the Third North American Fur Trade Conference. Edited by Carol M. Judd and Arthur J. Ray, 102-26. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980.
  • Podruchny, Carolyn. Making the Voyageur World: Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006.
  • Podruchny, Carolyn. “Werewolves and Windigos: Narratives of Cannibal Monsters in French-Canadian Voyageur Oral Tradition.” Ethnohistory 51:4 (2004): 677-700.
  • Sleeper-Smith, Susan. Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.
  • Van Kirk, Sylvia. Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur-Trade Society, 1670-1870. Winnipeg: Watson & Dwywer, 1999.

Regional Histories

  • Allen, John L. “The Invention of the American West.” In A Continent Comprehended, edited by John L. Allen. Vol. 3 of North American Exploration, edited by John L. Allen, 132-189. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.
  • Braund, Kathryn E. Holland. Deerskins and Duffels: The Creek Indian Trade with Anglo-America, 1685-1815. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2008.
  • Faragher, John Mack. “Americans, Mexicans, Métis: A Community Approach to the Comparative Study of North American Frontiers.” In Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past, edited by William Cronon, George Miles, and Jay Gitlin, 90-109. New York; London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992.
  • Gibson, James R. Otter Skins, Boston Ships, and China Goods: The Maritime Fur Trade of the Northwest Coast, 1785-1841. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992.
  • Gibson, Morgan Arrell. Yankees in Paradise: The Pacific Basin Frontier. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993.
  • Malloy, Mary. “Boston Men” on the Northwest Coast: The American Maritime Fur Trade 1788-1844. Kingston, Ontario; Fairbanks, Alaska: The Limestone Press, 1998.
  • Ronda, James P. Astoria & Empire. Lincoln, Nebraska; London: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.
  • Weber, David. The Taos Trappers: The Fur Trade in the Far Southwest, 1540-1846. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971.
  • Wishart, David J. The Fur Trade of the American West, 1807-1840: A Geographical Synthesis. Lincoln, Nebraska; London: University of Nebraska Press, 1979..

Papers of the North American Fur Trade Conferences


The papers from the North American Fur Trade conferences, which are held approximately every five years, not only provide a wealth of articles on disparate aspects of the fur trade, but also can be taken together as a historiographical overview since 1965. They are listed chronologically below. The third conference, held in 1978, is of particular note; the ninth conference, which was held in St. Louis in 2006, has not yet published its papers.
  • Morgan, Dale Lowell, ed. Aspects of the Fur Trade: Selected Papers of the 1965 North American Fur Trade Conference. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1967.
  • Bolus, Malvina. People and Pelts: Selected Papers. Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1972.
  • Judd, Carol M. and Arthur J. Ray, eds. Old Trails and New Directions: Papers of the Third North American Fur Trade Conference. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980.
  • Buckley, Thomas C., ed. Rendezvous: Selected Papers of the Fourth North American Fur Trade Conference, 1981. St. Paul, Minnesota: The Conference, 1984.
  • Trigger, Bruce G., Morantz, Toby Elaine, and Louise Dechêne. Le Castor Fait Tout: Selected Papers of the Fifth North American Fur Trade Conference, 1985. Montreal: The Society, 1987.
  • Brown, Jennifer S. H., Eccles, W. J.
    William J. Eccles
    William John Eccles , commonly known as W. J. Eccles, was a historian of Canada.Born in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, England, his family immigrated to to Canada in the 1920s. He attended college at McGill University and the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1953, he joined the faculty at the University of Manitoba...

    , and Donald P. Heldman. The Fur Trade Revisited: Selected Papers of the Sixth North American Fur Trade Conference, Mackinac Island, Michigan, 1991. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1994.
  • Fiske, Jo-Anne, Sleeper-Smith, Susan, and William Wicken, eds. New Faces of the Fur Trade: Selected Papers of the Seventh North American Fur Trade Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1995. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1998.
  • Johnston, Louise, ed. Aboriginal People and the Fur Trade: Proceedings of the 8th North American Fur Trade Conference, Akwesasne. Cornwall, Ontario: Akwesasne Notes Pub., 2001.

External links