Fur Trade Resources

Thank you all for your great questions today!  Several of you asked about the role of religion and of epidemics in French colonization.  Of course you're right that both figured prominently.  Missionaries often traveled far inland, just as voyageurs did.  And they, like voyageurs, often lived among native people and formed important ties to them.  Conversion was not the less organized and less coercive than it was in the Spanish empire and the French firms that operated in the fur trade did not, as Spanish conquistadors did, always support conversion.  Nonetheless, priests, churches, and missions traveled along with the fur trade, throughout North America.  

Epidemics and illness mattered too.  These created contexts in which many, many towns and villages were abandoned, refugees sought shelter with neighboring tribes, new alliances were crafted, and people were especially open to getting help from western medicine and those who said their religion would cure ill people.  There is a really, really good film for folks interested in these aspects of Great Lakes life.  It's called Black Robe and although it's fictional, it's based on the journals of a young priest who traveled to what's now eastern Canada and lived among Algonquian peoples.  It's dramatic, tragic, has a love story, and is visually stunning.

I also want to add a link to a wonderful local resource--the Northwest Company Trading Post in Pine City, Minnesota.  Operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, the fur post is   a recreation of a one erected in Pine City about two hundred years ago.  The website is full of wonderful resources on Minnesota's role in the fur trade, and especially on the ways that local Ojibwe people participated in it.  It's a nice opportunity to appreciate the global importance of Minnesota! The post is only open the occasional weekend this time of year, but it's an excellent road trip during the summer (well, excellent if you enjoy eighteenth and nineteenth century history).  The url is http://www.mnhs.org/places/sites/nwcfp/index.htm

Next week we being a longer term focus on Anglo settlement.  I hope, however, that the work you've done on Spanish and French colonization will stay with you and shape the questions you ask about Anglo peoples and their own, in some ways very unlikely, claims to North America.

See you all next week,



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This page contains a single entry by Tracey Deutsch published on September 16, 2009 9:38 PM.

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