Did The Aboriginals Play A Subordinate Role In the Fur Trade?

The fur trade was an essential business in Canada, it was a main export, and it was a good majority of Canada’s profit. Obtaining furs were done by the Aboriginals who would hunt the animals down, and for their efforts the Europeans would give them tools, food, and other necessities in life. Many Europeans described the Aboriginals as having minor and subordinate roles in the fur trade, until later on in the 80’s where they described it was the other way around.

Europeans were the ones relying on the Aboriginals, they had to adapt to their methods and customs such as using their term of reference (MB), and the custom of exchanging gifts before trading. The Europeans were obliged to do this because the Aboriginals had more experience with their geographically immense networks, as well as being on this land way more longer than the Europeans. A good example of adaption is the Cree and the Assiniboine. They had room to adapt, so that is why they could adapt to different habitat zones, incorporate new ideas, methods, and technology. Aboriginals played a major role in the fur trade because they accepted these adaptions and new ideas, and Europeans did do the same, but they were pushed into it for the future of the business they had with the Aboriginals. Getting more specific, Aboriginal women played an important role in the fur trade. They would fix things like canoes with pine gum, prepare food for gatherings, make clothes, build shelters, and cure furs and hides. Women also worked as guides for newcomers, negotiators, and interpreters.

“The usual dinner for our mess meaning the 3 ladies and me was – a roast of venison at the top 3 geese at the food, 4 ducks on one side 6 plovers on the other, a large Red river ham, and potatoes and mashed turnips or boiled lettuce.” – Letitia Hargrave (Meals)

This quote talks about the dinner of Letitia and three other woman, this quote shows that women were able to make large portions of food, and have a variety. It also shows that even though they are depended for their skills of fur trading, they still know the basic skills a woman in that time needed to know.

One thought on “Did The Aboriginals Play A Subordinate Role In the Fur Trade?

  1. Not quite sure if the quote proves the role that Aboriginals played. Frances Simpson or Thomas McCleish have good quotes that might highlight the importance of the Aboriginals.

    Good explanation of their interactions with the Europeans.

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