Indians in the Fur Trade: Their Role as Trappers, Hunters, and Middlemen in the Lands Southwest of Hudson Bay, 1660-1870


Excerpt from Frontmatter:

"First published in 1974, this best-selling book was lauded by Choice as ‘essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the Canadian west before 1870’ – ‘an important, ground-breaking study of the Assiniboine and western Cree Indians who inhabited southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan.’ Indians in the Fur Trade makes extensive use of previously unpublished Hudson’s Bay Company archival materials and other available data to reconstruct the cultural geography of the West at the time of earl contact, illustrating many of the rapid cultural transformations with maps and diagrams. Now with a new introduction and an update on sources, it will continue to be of great use to students and scholars of Native and Canadian history.

From the Author's Introduction, Page xxv:

"Determining the range of Aboriginal vocations at the time treaties were signed means providing the court with a cross-sectional view of regional Aboriginal economy at a particular instant and an explanation of the processes that produced the features described. In many respects this is the same challenge I faced in Indians in the Fur Trade, where I provided three snapshots of what I considered to be meaningful turning points in the culture history of the region – initial contact, 1821, and the 1860s. In the late interdependency resurfaced in court. A central question asked of me was, Had Aboriginal and European economies become so intermeshed through exchange that commercial production of a wide range of fish, fur, and game products, and other so-called ‘country produce,’ was a central fact of life for a given Native group when they signed a treaty? A related question is, Did Aboriginal People seek through treaties seek through treaties to obtain a socioeconomic ‘safety-net’ from Canada that was equivalent to the kinds of protection that the mercantile fur trade had provided for them through gift giving, credit, and sick-and-destitute-relief schemes? In this respect my involvement in claims-oriented research has brought me full circle." (xxv).

Publication Information

Ray, Arthur J. Indians in the Fur Trade: Their Role as Trappers, Hunters, and Middlemen in the Lands Southwest of Hudson Bay, 1660-1870. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998. 2nd Edition.

Ray, Arthur J.
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