Rethinking the Fur Trade: Cultures of Exchange in an Atlantic World

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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.
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Editorial Reviews

Annals of Iowa

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

— Claiborne A. Skinner

North Dakota History

"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

— Chris Johnson

Annals of Iowa - Claiborne A. Skinner

"Rethinking the Fur Trade is an invaluable book."—Claiborne A. Skinner, Annals of Iowa
North Dakota History - Chris Johnson

"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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803243293
  • Publisher: UNP - Nebraska Paperback
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 702
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

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.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables

Pt. I New Perspectives

1 Cultures of Exchange in a North Atlantic World Susan Sleeper-Smith Sleeper-Smith, Susan

Pt. 2 Indian Voices

Introduction 3

2 Of the Mission of Saint Francois Xavier on the "Bay of Stinkards," or Rather "Of Stinking Waters" Father Allouez 7

3 On the Hunting of the Gaspesians Chrestien Leclercq Leclercq, Chrestien 10

4 The Hunting of Moose, of Bears, of Beavers, of Lynxes, and other animals according to their seasons Chrestien Leclercq Leclercq, Chrestien 17

5 Tarrentines and the Introduction of European Trade Goods in the Gulf of Maine Bruce J. Bourque Bourque, Bruce J. Ruth Holmes Whitehead Whitehead, Ruth Holmes 22

6 The Anishinabeg Point of View: The History of the Great Lakes Region to 1800 in Nineteenth-Century Mississauga, Odawa, and Ojibwa Historiography D. Peter Macleod Macleod, D. Peter 45

7 Fur Trade Literature from a Tribal Point of View: A Critique Donald F. Bibeau Bibeau, Donald F. 65

Pt. 3 The Social and Political Significance of Exchange

Introduction 83

8 Agriculture and the Fur Trade D. W. Moode Moode, D. W. 88

9 "Give Us a Little Milk": The Social and Cultural Significance of Gift Giving in the Lake Superior Fur Trade Bruce M. White White, Bruce M. 114

10 "Starving" and Survival in the Subarctic Fur Trade: A Case for Contextual Semantics Mary Black-Rogers Black-Rogers, Mary 137

11 The Growth and Economic Significance of the American Fur Trade, 1790-1890 James L. Clayton Clayton, James L. 160

12 "Red" Labor: Iroquois Participation in the Atlantic Economy Gail D. MacLeitch MacLeitch, Gail D. 181

13 The Fur Trade and Eighteenth-Century Imperialism W.J. Eccles Eccles, W. J. 215

14 The Middle Ground Richard White White, Richard 246

15 Creative Misunderstandings and New Understandings Richard White White, Richard 305

Pt. 4. Cloth Trade Introduction 315

16 Indians as Consumers in the Eighteenth Century Arthur J. Ray Ray, Arthur J. 320

17 Dressing for Success on the Mohawk Frontier: Hendrick, William Johnson, and the Indian Fashion Timothy J. Shannon Shannon, Timothy J. 344

18 The Flow of European Trade Goods into the Western Great Lakes Region, 1715-1760 Dean L. Anderson Anderson, Dean L. 385

19 The Matchcoat Gail DeBuse Potter Potter, Gail DeBuse 411

20 Chiefs Coats Supplied by the American Fur Company Allen Chronister Chronister, Allen 414

21 The Myth of the Silk Hat and the End of the Rendezvous James A. Hanson Hanson, James A. 420

Pt. 5 Gender, Kinship, and Community

Introduction 439

22 Women, Kin, and Catholicism: New Perspectives on the Fur Trade Susan Sleeper-Smith Sleeper-Smith, Susan 443

23 "The Custom of the Country": An Examination of Fur Trade Marriage Practices Sylvia Van Kirk Van Kirk, Sylvia 481

24 Woman as Centre and Symbol in the Emergence of Metis Communities Jennifer S. H. Brown Brown, Jennifer S. H. 519

25 Prelude to Red River: A Social Portrait of the Great Lakes Metis Jacqueline Peterson Peterson, Jacqueline 529

26 The Glaize in 1792: A Composite Indian Community Helen Hornbeck Tanner Tanner, Helen Hornbeck 561

27 Festivities, Fortitude, and Fraternalism: Fur Trade Masculinity and the Beaver Club, 1785-1827 Carolyn Podruchny Podruchny, Carolyn 593

Index 621

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