Rethinking the Fur Trade


Rethinking the Fur Trade

Cultures of Exchange in an Atlantic World

Edited by Susan Sleeper-Smith

702 pages
9 photos, 5 maps, 14 tables, 1 figure


December 2009


$40.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Lucrative, far-reaching, and complex, the fur trade bound together Europeans and Native peoples of North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Rethinking the Fur Trade offers a nuanced look at the broad range of contracts that characterized the fur trade, a phenomenon that has often been oversimplified and misrepresented. These essays show how the role of Native Americans was far more instrumental in the conduct and outcome of the fur trade than previously suggested.
Rethinking the Fur Trade exposes what has been called the “invisible hand of indigenous commerce,” revealing how it changed European interaction with Indians, influenced what was produced to serve the interests of Indian customers, and led to important cultural innovations. The initial essays explain the working mechanisms of the fur trade and explore how and why it evolved in a North Atlantic context. The second section examines indigenous perspectives through primary-source writings from the period and considers newly evolving indigenous perspectives about the fur trade. The final sections analyze the social history of the fur trade, the profound effect of the cloth trade on Indian dress and culture, and the significance of gender, kinship, and community in the workings of economic exchange.

Author Bio

Susan Sleeper-Smith, professor of history at Michigan State University, is the author of Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes and the editor of Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives (Nebraska 2009).
Contributors: Dean Anderson, Donald F. Bibeau, Mary Black-Rogers, Bruce J. Bourque, Jennifer S. H. Brown, Allen Chronister, James L. Clayton, Bruce White, W. J. Eccles, William F. Ganong, James A. Hanson, Gail D. MacLeitch, D. Peter MacLeod, D. W. Moodie, Jacqueline Petersen, Carolyn Podruchny, Gail DeBuse Potter, Arthur J. Ray, Timothy J. Shannon, Susan Sleeper-Smith, Helen Hornbeck Tanner, Reuben Gold Thwaites, Sylvia Van Kirk, Richard White, and Ruth H. Whitehead.


"Rethinking the Fur Trade is an invaluable book."—Claiborne A. Skinner, Annals of Iowa

"Rethinking the Fur Trade is a welcome and valuable addition. . . . It succeeds in giving multiple perspectives on the cultures of exchange and the fur trade for a wide audience."—Chris Johnson, North Dakota History

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables

Source Acknowledgments

Introduction: Cultures of Exchange in a North Atlantic World

Part 1. Indigenous Perspectives


1. Of the Mission of Saint Francois Xavier on the "Bay of Stinkards," or Rather "Of Stinking Waters"

      Father Allouez

2. On the Hunting of the Gaspesians

      Father Chrestien LeClercq

3. The Hunting of Moose, of Bears, of Beavers, of Lynxes, and Other Animals According to Their Seasons

      Father Chrestien LeClercq

4. Tarrentines and the Introduction of European Trade Goods in the Gulf of Maine

      Bruce J. Bourque and Ruth Holmes Whitehead

5. The Anishinabeg Point of View: The History of the Great Lakes Region to 1800 in Nineteenth-Century Mississauga, Odawa, and Obijwa Historiography

      D. Peter MacLeod

6. Fur Trade Literature from a Tribal Point of View: A Critique

      Donald F. Bibeau

Part 2. The Social and Political Significance of Exchange


7. Agriculture and the Fur Trade

      D. W. Moodie

8. "Give Us a Little Milk": The Social and Cultural Significance of Gift Giving in the Lake Superior Fur Trade

      Bruce M. White

9. "Starving" and Survival in the Subartic Fur Trade: A Case for Contextual Semantics

      Mary Black-Rogers

10. The Growth and Economic Significance of the American Fur Trade, 1790<EN>1890

      James L. Clayton

11. "Red" Labor: Iroquois Participation in the Atlantic Economy

      Gail D. MacLeitch

12. The Fur Trade and Eighteenth-Century Imperialism

      W. J. Eccles

13. The Middle Ground

      Richard White

14. Creative Misunderstandings and New Understandings

      Richard White

Part 3. Cloth Trade


15. Indians as Consumers in the Eighteenth Century

      Arthur J. Ray

16. Dressing for Success on the Mohawk Frontier: Hendrick, William Johnson, and the Indian Fashion

      Timothy J. Shannon

17. The Flow of European Trade Goods into the Western Great Lakes Region, 1715<EN>1760

      Dean L. Anderson

18. The Matchcoat

      Gail DeBuse Potter

19. Chiefs Coats Supplied by the American Fur Company

      Allen Chronister

20. The Myth of the Silk Hat and the End of the Rendezvous

      James A. Hanson

Part 4. Gender, Kinship, and Community


21. Women, Kin, and Catholicism: New Perspectives on the Fur Trade

      Susan Sleeper-Smith

22. "The Custom of the Country": An Examination of Fur Trade Marriage Practices

      Sylvia Van Kirk

23. Woman as Centre and Symbol in the Emergence of Metis Communities

      Jennifer S. H. Brown

24. Prelude to Red River: A Social Portrait of the Great Lakes Métis

      Jacqueline Peterson

25. The Glaize in 1792: A Composite Indian Community

      Helen Hornbeck Tanner

26. Festivities, Fortitude, and Fraternalism: Fur Trade Masculinity and the Beaver Club, 1785<EN>1827

      Carolyn Podruchny


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