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Paper Topic:

What role did native people play in fur trade, and was the fur trade dominated by Europeans?

The Role of Native People in the Fur Trade

The re-examination of the roles that native Indians played in the fur trade between North American and Europeans is gaining significance for many scholars . Experts in the field of history and anthropology who have examined the relations between the two cultures suggest that , contrary to popularly held notions , the native Indians occupied powerful positions and trading leverage in the fur trade

Ethnohistorians like Harold Innis (1956 ) and E .E . Rich (1955 perpetuated the idea that the Europeans took advantage of the Native

Americans ' simplicity ' to profit in the fur trade . In his 1958 study on the role of the Russian market in the fur trade , for instance , Rich does not even mention the Indians , much less describe their condition but presents a well-written on how the early European settlers were able to exploit the fur trade to establish themselves as trading satellites of major European economies

A growing number of scholars are therefore challenging these accounts Carlos and Lewis (1999 ) allege that the two historians were guilty of downplaying the customs and practices of the Indians , focusing instead on the conduct of the fur trade by European companies . Hamilton (2000 complained that while much of the operations of the European fur trading companies have been discussed , very few of the scholars were interested in determining the extent to which the native Indians themselves were involved in the fur business

Likewise , Hamilton (2000 ) debunks the notion that the relationship between the Indians and the Europeans was based on the exploitation of the latter on the former , as suggested by interpretations that approach the fur trade from cultural and technological-deterministic perspectives , when he states that the divergent cultural backgrounds of fur trade participants makes it clear that people with different world views can interact in a mutually intelligible fashion despite their differing culture perceptions ' Whelan (1993 ) also presents evidence that the trading relationship between the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux tribes of Dakota and the Europeans during the nineteenth century fur trade was based on gift exchanges and reciprocity . This supports Ray 's contention in Article 3 that the Indians were able to engage in profitable trading with the Europeans and were in fact powerful enough to demand product quality from their trading counterparts

Contrary to accounts , which portrayed the Indians as unwitting victims of the European 's more sophisticated , and worldly ways , the native Indians were heavily involved in the fur trade . Kay (1984 ) contends that the Winnebago tribe , for instance , was already hunting and trapping wildlife for the fur trade as early as 1620 . Ray (1978 ) likewise argues that the Indians served in the capacities of hunter , trapper , and trader . The Indians ' activities were not limited to hunting for fur they also acted as guides and interpreters , were involved in the provision of transport services , worked as wage labor around the fur trading posts , and even sold canoes to the Europeans . Indian women were also heavily involved in the trade as social...

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