Fur trade

Native Americans traded along the waterways of present-day Minnesota and across the Great Lakes for centuries before the arrival of Europeans in the mids. For nearly years afterward, European American traders exchanged manufactured goods with Native people for valuable furs.

The Ojibwe and Dakota held powerful positions, prompting both the French and British to actively court their military and trade allegiance. Trade with Native Americans was so critical to the French and British that many European Americans working in the fur trade adopted Native protocols.

The Ojibwe were particularly influential, which led many French and British people to favor Ojibwe customs of bartering, cooperative diplomacy, meeting in councils, and the use of pipes. After the War of there were three main parties involved in the Upper Mississippi fur trade: Native Americans primarily the Dakota and Ojibwethe fur trading companies, and the US government.

These parties worked together and each had something to gain from a stable trading environment. Both Fort Snelling and the Indian Agency were established by the US government at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers to control and maintain the stability of the region's fur trade. Bythe American Fur Company controlled the fur trade across much of present-day Minnesota.

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Today it is called Mendota, derived from the word Bdote. The post was managed by Alexis Bailly, who began running a series of trading posts that extended up the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. The Dakota and Ojibwe were the primary trappers of fur-bearing animals in the Northwest Territory. They harvested a wide variety of furs beaver being the most valuable in the region's woodlands and waterways. In exchange for these furs, French, British, and US traders provided goods such as blankets, firearms and ammunition, cloth, metal tools, and brass kettles.

The Dakota and Ojibwe had existed for thousands of years using tools made from readily available materials, but by the s trade goods had become a part of daily life for many Native communities. Some Dakota and Ojibwe communities became dependent on trade goods for a certain level of prosperity and efficiency in their everyday lives. The fur trade had a tremendous effect on Dakota and Ojibwe cultural practices and influenced US-Native economic and political relations in the 19th century, including treaty negotiations.

Voyageurs "travelers" in French were men hired to work for the fur trade companies to transport trade goods throughout the vast territory to rendezvous posts. At the rendezvous points, these goods were exchanged for furs, which were then sent to larger cities for shipment to the east coast. Many traders and voyageurs married Native American women and were integrated into their Native kinship networks, often trading exclusively within their particular community.

George Bonga, the son of a former slave and an Ojibwe woman, married an Ojibwe woman and was active in the fur trade during the first half of the s. Bonga was educated in Montreal and was well-known for his physical stature and strength. Often sought out for his skills as an interpreter, Bonga could speak French, English, and Ojibwe. The Bonga family is just one example of the diversity and cultural exchange that resulted from the fur trade in the Northwest Territory.

Slavery also played a part in the fur trade, as some traders and fur company employees including Jean Baptiste Faribault and Hypolite Dupuis utilized the labor of enslaved people. There is speculation as to whether Henry Hastings Sibley enslaved someone at his trading post, because it is unclear as to whether or not Joe Robinson, his cook, was a free man.

In some cases these enslaved people were freed by their masters, but often they remained part of the trade business. By the s the fur trade had declined dramatically in the Minnesota region, partially due to changes in fashion tastes, the availability of less-expensive materials for hat-making, and because the US government reduced Dakota and Ojibwe hunting grounds through treaties.

For many Dakota and Ojibwe people, who had by this time become increasingly dependent on the trade, exchanging land in order to pay off debts claimed by traders became a matter of survival. Fur trade beads, about — Brass trade kettle, about — Fur trade iron projectile points, about —s.

Sketch of a fur trader from the journal of Alexis Bailly, about s.The fur trade was one of the earliest and most important industries in North America. The fur trading industry played a major role in the development of the United States and Canada for more than years.

The fur trade began in the 's as an exchange between Indians and Europeans.

fur trade

The Indians traded furs for such goods as tools and weapons. Beaver fur, which was used in Europe to make felt hats, became the most valuable of these furs. The fur trade prospered until the mid's, when fur-bearing animals became scarce and silk hats became more popular than felt hats made with beaver.

Today, almost all trappers sell their pelts. Eskimo and Indian trappers in Canada still trade their furs to fur companies for various goods. The earliest fur traders in North America were French explorers and fishermen who arrived in what is now Eastern Canada during the early 's.

Trade started after the French offered the Indians kettles, knives, and other gifts as a means to establish friendly relations. The Indians, in turn, gave pelts to the French. By the late 's, a great demand for fur had developed in Europe. This demand encouraged further exploration of North America. The demand for beaver increased rapidly in the early 's, when fashionable European men began to wear felt hats made from beaver fur.

Such furs as fox, marten, mink, and otter also were traded. Inthe French explorer Samuel de Champlain established a trading post on the site of the present-day city of Quebec. The city became a fur-trading center. The French expanded their trading activities along the St. Lawrence River and around the Great Lakes. They eventually controlled most of the early fur trade in what became Canada. The French traders obtained furs from the Huron Indians and, later, from the Ottawa.

These tribes were not trappers, but they acquired the furs from other Indians. The French also developed the fur trade along the Mississippi River. During the early 's, English settlers developed a fur trade in what are now New England and Virginia.

English traders later formed an alliance with the Iroquois Indians and extended their trading area from Maine down the Atlantic Coast to Georgia.

European business companies handled a large number of the furs shipped from North America during the 's and s.

The most famous of these firms, the Hudson's Bay Company, was established in It was founded by a group of English merchants, with the help of two French fur traders. The English government gave the company sole trading rights in what is now the Hudson Bay region. During the 's, French and British fur traders competed bitterly over trading rights in the region between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River.

This competition, plus other conflicts between the two nations, led to the French and Indian war in Great Britain won the war in and took over France's colonial empire in North America. The traders of the new firm were called " Nor Westers. However, the company failed financially and, inmerged with the Hudson's Bay Company. During the late 's, Russia began to develop in the area that is now Alaska.

The Russian-American Company was established there in The Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean in and led to the development of fur trading in the West.Indians would trade the pelts of small animals, such as mink, for knives and other iron-based products, or for textiles.

Exchange at first was haphazard and it was only in the late sixteenth century, when the wearing of beaver hats became fashionable, that firms were established who dealt exclusively in furs. High quality pelts are available only where winters are severe, so the trade took place predominantly in the regions we now know as Canada, although some activity took place further south along the Mississippi River and in the Rocky Mountains. There was also a market in deer skins that predominated in the Appalachians.

fur trade

The first firms to participate in the fur trade were French, and under French rule the trade spread along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers, and down the Mississippi. In the seventeenth century, following the Dutch, the English developed a trade through Albany. For roughly the next hundred years, this northern region saw competition of varying intensity between the French and the English. With the conquest of New France inthe French trade shifted to Scottish merchants operating out of Montreal.

The fur trade was based on pelts destined either for the luxury clothing market or for the felting industries, of which hatting was the most important. This was a transatlantic trade. The animals were trapped and exchanged for goods in North America, and the pelts were transported to Europe for processing and final sale.

As a result, forces operating on the demand side of the market in Europe and on the supply side in North America determined prices and volumes; while intermediaries, who linked the two geographically separated areas, determined how the trade was conducted.

However much hats may be considered an accessory today, they were for centuries a mandatory part of everyday dress, for both men and women.

Of course styles changed, and, in response to the vagaries of fashion and politics, hats took on various forms and shapes, from the high-crowned, broad-brimmed hat of the first two Stuarts to the conically-shaped, plainer hat of the Puritans. What remained a constant was the material from which hats were made — wool felt. The wool came from various animals, but towards the end of the fifteenth century beaver wool began to be predominate. Over time, beaver hats became increasingly popular eventually dominating the market.

Furs have long been classified as either fancy or staple. Fancy furs are those demanded for the beauty and luster of their pelt. These furs — mink, fox, otter — are fashioned by furriers into garments or robes. Staple furs are sought for their wool. All staple furs have a double coating of hair with long, stiff, smooth hairs called guard hairs which protect the shorter, softer hair, called wool, that grows next to the animal skin.

Only the wool can be felted. Each of the shorter hairs is barbed and once the barbs at the ends of the hair are open, the wool can be compressed into a solid piece of material called felt.

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The prime staple fur has been beaver, although muskrat and rabbit have also been used. Wool felt was used for over two centuries to make high-fashion hats. Felt is stronger than a woven material. It will not tear or unravel in a straight line; it is more resistant to water, and it will hold its shape even if it gets wet.

These characteristics made felt the prime material for hatters especially when fashion called for hats with large brims.

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The highest quality hats would be made fully from beaver wool, whereas lower quality hats included inferior wool, such as rabbit.

The transformation of beaver skins into felt and then hats was a highly skilled activity.The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur.

Since the establishment of a world fur market in the early modern period, furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued. Historically the trade had a large impact on the exploration and colonization of Siberia, northern North America and the South Shetland and South Sandwich Islands.

Today the importance of the fur trade has diminished and is currently centered around fur farms and regulated furbearer trapping, but remains controversial.

fur trade

Several animal rights 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 has been partly substituted by synthetic imitations. Song lyrics by fur trade -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by fur trade on the Lyrics. Word in Definition. Freebase 2. Suggested Resources 1. How to pronounce Fur trade? Alex US English. Daniel British. Karen Australian. Veena Indian. How to say Fur trade in sign language? Select another language:.

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History of the Fur Trade

Thanks for your vote! We truly appreciate your support.This was not an unrealistic expectation, for when Hernando Cortes conquered the Aztec Empire in Mexico in andhe found incredible quantities of precious metals, as did Francisco Pizarro when he conquered the Inca Empire in A French explorer, Jacques Cartier, explored the St.

Lawrence River between and and expected to discover similar wealth or at least a waterway to Asia, which possessed valuable spices and silks. He was soon disappointed in both endeavors, for there were no precious metals along the St. Lawrence, nor did it lead to Asia. Nevertheless, the French soon found something that proved to be just as valuable: furs. Europeans used furs in variety of ways.

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Many garments, especially those of the wealthy, were trimmed with the fur of animals such as fox, ermine, and sable. Europeans learned that beaver fur could be made into felt and fashioned into high hats, which soon became fashionable throughout the continent. Beavers were almost extinct in Europe but were plentiful in North America and possessed high-quality pelts.

The first Europeans to purchase furs from Indians were French and English fishermen who, during the s, fished off the coast of northeastern Canada and occasionally traded with the Indians.

In exchange, the Indians received European-manufactured goods such as guns, metal cooking utensils, and cloth. This trade became so lucrative that many fishermen abandoned fishing and made voyages to North America only to trade in furs, often before great explorers such as Cartier, Giovanni Caboto John CabotHenry Hudson, Giovanni da Verrazzano, and even Christopher Columbus made their famous voyages.

While Cartier's voyages did not result in lasting French settlement in North America, they did expand trade between the French and Indians which had been going on before he arrived.

Throughout the s, French traders regularly landed their ships at Tadoussac near the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers and traded with Canadian Indians. Many tribes then traded some of these goods with other Indian groups farther into the interior. No Frenchmen resided in Canada at this time, nor were there other European settlements along the northeast coast of North America. The traders simply came to trade and then went back to Europe.

Of lesser prominence were the English colonies of New England settled by the Puritans and Pilgrims beginning in the s. Unlike the French and Dutch, the English came to farm rather than trade, but occasionally traded with local Indians as well. The French, on the other hand, traded with the Algonkian-speaking tribes of the St.

By the s, many areas used by the Iroquois for gathering furs became exhausted. They initiated a series of wars that did not end untilalthough there were long periods of relative peace during this year period. Some of the fiercest fighting took place in the late s and early s. The combined forces of the League of the Iroquois destroyed some tribes such as the Erie and scattered others such as the Huron with the goal of monopolizing the Great Lakes fur trade and receiving more trade goods from the Dutch and English.

In the course of these wars, many tribes such as the Potawatomi, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Sauk, and Fox were pushed from southern Michigan into Wisconsin.

The Iroquois wars were particularly destructive, and many refugee Indians who fled into Wisconsin suffered from starvation and warfare with the two indigenous tribes, the Menominee and Ho-Chunk.

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The Iroquois wars disrupted the flow of furs to the French colony of Quebec. Prior to the wars, the Huron had controlled the trade into the interior of North America, including Wisconsin. The level of trade the Hurons had into the Wisconsin area is unknown, but French sources suggest that the Huron and Ottawa both traded with Wisconsin Indians before any Europeans arrived. Jean Nicolet might have been the first European to arrive in Wisconsin, but he came as a French emissary rather than as a trader.The North American fur trade was an industry and activity related to the acquisition, trade, exchange, and sale of animal furs in North America.

Aboriginal peoples in Canada and Native Americans in the United States of various regions traded among themselves in the pre—Columbian Era. Europeans participated in the trade from the time of their arrival in the New World, extending the trade's reach to Europe.

The French started trading in the 16th century, the English established trading posts on Hudson Bay in present-day Canada during the 17th century, while the Dutch had trade by the same time in New Netherland. North American fur trade was at its peak of economic importance in the 19th century, and involved the development of elaborate trade networks. The fur trade became one of the main economic ventures in North America attracting competition among the French, British, Dutch, Spanish, and Russians.

Indeed, in the early history of the United States, capitalizing on this trade, and removing the British stranglehold over it, was seen as a major economic objective. Many Native American societies across the continent came to depend on the fur trade as their primary source of income. By the mids changing fashions in Europe brought about a collapse in fur prices. The American Fur Company and some other companies failed.

Many Native communities were plunged into long-term poverty and consequently lost much of the political influence they once had.

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French explorer Jacques Cartier in his three voyages into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the s and s conducted some of the earliest fur trading between European and First Nations peoples associated with sixteenth century and later explorations in North America.

Cartier attempted limited fur trading with the First Nations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and along the St. Lawrence River. He concentrated on trading for furs used as trimming and adornment. He overlooked the fur that would become the driving force of the fur trade in the north, the beaver pelt, which would become fashionable in Europe. The earliest European trading for beaver pelts dated to the growing cod fishing industry that spread to the Grand Banks of the North Atlantic in the 16th century.

The new preservation technique of drying fish allowed the mainly Basque fishermen to fish near the Newfoundland coast and transport fish back to Europe for sale. The fisherman sought suitable harbors with ample lumber to dry large quantities of cod. This generated their earliest contact with local Aboriginal peopleswith whom the fisherman began simple trading.

The fishermen traded metal items for beaver robes made of sewn-together, native-tanned, beaver pelts.

The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America

They used the robes to keep warm on the long, cold return voyages across the Atlantic. These castor gras in French became prized by European hat makers in the second half of the 16th century, as they converted the pelts to fur felt. The transition from a seasonal coastal trade into a permanent interior fur trade was formally marked with the foundation of Quebec on the St.

Lawrence River in by Samuel de Champlain. This settlement marked the beginning of the westward movement of French traders from the first permanent settlement of Tadoussac at the mouth of the Saguenay River on the Gulf of St. Lawrenceup the St. Lawrence River and into the pays d'en haut or "upper country" around the Great Lakes. What followed in the first half of the 17th century were strategic moves by both the French and the indigenous groups to further their own economic and geopolitical ambitions.

Samuel de Champlain led the expansion while centralizing the French efforts. As native peoples had the primary role of suppliers in the fur trade, Champlain quickly created alliances with the AlgonquinMontagnais who were located in the territory around Tadoussacand most importantly, the Huron to the west. The latter, an Iroquoian -speaking people, served as middlemen between the French on the St.

Lawrence and nations in the pays d'en haut. Champlain supported the northern groups in their preexisting military struggle with the Iroquois Confederacy to the south. He secured the Ottawa River route to Georgian Baygreatly expanding the trade.The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur.

Since the establishment of a world fur market in the early modern periodfurs of borealpolar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued. Historically the trade stimulated the exploration and colonization of Siberianorthern North Americaand the South Shetland and South Sandwich Islands. Today the importance of the fur trade has diminished; it is based on pelts produced at fur farms and regulated fur-bearer trappingbut has become controversial.

Animal rights organizations oppose the fur trade, citing that animals are brutally killed and sometimes skinned alive. Before the European colonization of the Americas, Russia was a major supplier of fur pelts to Western Europe and parts of Asia.

The main trading market destination was the German city of Leipzig. Originally, Russia exported raw furs, consisting in most cases of the pelts of martensbeaverswolvesfoxessquirrels and hares.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, Russians began to settle in Siberiaa region rich in many mammal fur species, such as Arctic foxlynxsablesea otter and stoat ermine. In a search for the prized sea otter pelts, first used in China, and later for the northern fur sealthe Russian Empire expanded into North America, notably Alaska.

From the 17th through the second half of the 19th century, Russia was the world's largest supplier of fur. The fur trade played a vital role in the development of Siberiathe Russian Far East and the Russian colonization of the Americas. As recognition of the importance of the trade to the Siberian economy, the sable is a regional symbol of the Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast and the Siberian NovosibirskTyumen and Irkutsk Oblasts of Russia. The European discovery of North America, with its vast forests and wildlife, particularly the beaver, led to the continent becoming a major supplier in the 17th century of fur pelts for the fur felt hat and fur trimming and garment trades of Europe.

Fur was relied on to make warm clothing, a critical consideration prior to the organization of coal distribution for heating. Portugal and Spain played major roles in fur trading after the 15th century with their business in fur hats. From as early as the 10th century, merchants and boyars of Novgorod had exploited the fur resources "beyond the portage", a watershed at the White Lake that represents the door to the entire northwestern part of Eurasia.

They began by establishing trading posts along the Volga and Vychegda river networks and requiring the Komi people to give them furs as tribute. Novgorod, the chief fur-trade center prospered as the easternmost trading post of the Hanseatic League. Novgorodians expanded farther east and north, coming into contact with the Pechora people of the Pechora River valley and the Yugra people residing near the Urals.

Both of these native tribes offered more resistance than the Komi, killing many Russian tribute-collectors throughout the tenth and eleventh centuries. During the 15th century Moscow began subjugating many native tribes. One strategy involved exploiting antagonisms between tribes, notably the Komi and Yugra, by recruiting men of one tribe to fight in an army against the other tribe.

Campaigns against native tribes in Siberia remained insignificant until they began on a much larger scale in and Besides the Novgorodians and the indigenes, Muscovites also had to contend with the various Muslim Tatar khanates to the east of Muscovy.