The Subarctic Fur Trade
Native Social and Economic Adaptations
Originally presented at the American Society for Ethnohistory conference in 1981, the papers in this book focus on themes which have been near the centre of fur trade scholarship: the identification of Indian motivations; the degree to which Indians were discriminating consumers and creative participants; and the extent of Native dependency on the trade. It spans the period from the seventeenth century up to and including the twentieth century.
In one of the key essays, Arthur J. Ray questions the theory that modern Native welfare societies are of recent origin and traces their roots to the early fur trade. In developing his thesis, his concerns about resource depletions and other ecological changes, the advent of new mercantilistic impulses, and the development of dependence also emerge as sources of inquiry by the other authors.
Papers by Charles A. Bishop, Toby Morantz, and Carol M. Judd focus on the North Algonquians in the eastern subarctic and earlier centuries of the trade, while two final essays by Shepard Krech, and Robert Jarvenpa and Hetty Jo Brumbach shift the focus to the North Athapascans in the western subarctic.
The Subarctic Fur Trade will help scholars become more fully aware of the issues concerned with Native economic history, which are of common interest to scholars from many different disciplines. It also illustrates the methods that are increasingly being used to arrive at empirically based answers to questions and which will, when further refined, lead to greater advances in fur-trade scholarship.
The Subarctic Fur Trade offers a sampling of the most innovative and influential scholarship being produced in the field today … The volume breaks new ground in its emphasis on the little-studied fur trade of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and as a result revises and expands the current chronological framework used to measure the loss of autonomy of subarctic tribal societies resulting from interaction with whites … Few volumes merit the accolade “state-of-the-art.” This is one of them.
An innovative approach toward better understanding the fur trade in the subarctic by combining the interdisciplinary perspectives of anthropologists, historians, and geographers… an advancement in fur trade scholarship.
In contributing so substantially to the understanding of the complexities of the interaction of the fur trade with northern hunting and gathering societies, [this book] also contributes to the understanding of interaction between human societies in general.
Maps and Tables
Introduction / Shepard Krech III
1 Periodic Shortages, Native Welfare, and the Hudson's Bay Company 1670-1930 / Arthur J. Ray
2 The First Century: Adaptive Changes among the Western James Bay Cree between the Early Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries / Charles A. Bishop
3 Economic and Social Accommodations of the James Bay Inlanders to the Fur Trade / Toby Morantz
4 Sakie, Esquawenoe, and the Foundation of a Dual-Native Tradition at Moose Factory / Carol M. Judd
5 The Trade of the Slavey and Dogrib at Fort Simpson in the Early Nineteenth Century / Shepard Krech III
6 The Microeconomics of Southern Chipewyan Fur-Trade History / Robert Jarvenpa and Hetty Jo Brumbach
Notes on Contributors
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