The fur trade was a very significant time, and a very important event in the history of America and for the Native Americans. Since Indians were excellent hunters, they often had an abundance of pelts from various animals. While these pelts were often used to make clothing, housing, and shoes, the Americans who came to the country often sought after them as well.
Eventually, a barter system was created, and fur traders became an integral part in the development of the land. Native Americans often wanted items such as firearms, metal weapons, alcohol, and clothing from the Europeans, so these items were traded by the Europeans in exchange for fur of various animals. This trading system helped to strengthen the relationship between the Indians and the Europeans, and offer ended up creating alliances and friendships, which helped develop a sense of trust. The fur traders became an almost political group instead of an economical one, creating bonds between the tribes and the Europeans. Some of the most commonly traded furs were the pelts of hares, foxes, otter, and many other animals.
While the fur trade was usually peaceful and pleasant, many times alcohol would be consumed in excess, and traders would disagree on a transaction. This could result in serous violence, often ending in death. Eventually, the demand for fur began to lessen, and the Europeans decided that land was more valuable than fur. This began the great many wars that took place between the new settlers and the Indians over territory, and fur became a thing of the past as land took over as the new desire. While fur traders and the concept of fur trading was a positive thing when it first began, as time went on it began to lose its appeal and tensions began to rise once again.
Joseph Paige © 2006