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THE FUR TRADE ERA. Chapter 4 1770s-1849. European Expansion. Exploration and colonization by Europeans began in the late 1400’s and early 1500’s. England and Spain rivaled each other for territory. Spain initially claimed the Pacific Coast as their territory.
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THE FUR TRADE ERA Chapter 4 1770s-1849
European Expansion • Exploration and colonization by Europeans began in the late 1400’s and early 1500’s. • England and Spain rivaled each other for territory. • Spain initially claimed the Pacific Coast as their territory. • But England argued that you had to actually visit a territory in order to claim in.
The Race for North America • 1700s Europeans had explored and colonized rest of world • Northwest one of last regions of European colonialism • Competition for expansion increased in the 1700’s, with a race to find the NorthWest Passage – a better trading route to Asia through North America • Russians crossed the Bering Strait and began colonizing Alaska and moving south
1774 Juan Perez • Juan Perez is the first recorded history of European contact with BC First Nations. • from Spain landed his ship on the northwestern point of Haida Gwaii. • Juan Perez traded furs with the Haida, and then continued to Vancouver Island, in Nuu-chah-nulth territory. • Juan Perez found that the people there already had iron and copper; proof that European trade was already occurring.
THE NUU-CHAH-NULTH MEET COOK • James Cook’s 1778 journey was the first written record of material culture and social life of the Coastal First Nations. • He was told to claim uninhabited lands for Britain • landed west coast Vancouver Island in traditional Nuu-chah-nulth territory. • spent 1 month with Nuu-chah-nulth people • misinterpreted name as “nutka” (Nootka) • means “go around” (to find safe anchorage) • Cook’s ship ended up trading large amounts of sea otter pelts. • When Cook left, reports of the vast amounts of fur spread. The race for furs was on!
Maritime Fur Trade • For 25 years after Cook’s visit to Vancouver Island, nearly 200 hundred ships from Britain, Spain and the United States began a sea otter fur trade. • The voyagers also took note of the vast amounts of timber, and began taking it as well. • During this time many of the imperial powers tried, with minimal success, to lay claim over the territory. • Eventually the imperial powers lost interest in the Northwest Coast, and colonial power was left to the fur traders.
MARITIME FUR TRADE PROCESS • The European traders typically stayed on their ships, and the First Nations traders brought the furs to them by canoe. • Sometimes the visitors were taken on-shore, and the First Nations people would honor them with feasts. • The Europeans were treated as if they were chiefs from visiting nations – including the practice of welcoming ceremonies and the exchanging of gifts. • The women in the trading parties often had a say in the final price of items.
Popular Trade Items for First Nations • The most popular trade item was iron. - Iron allowed them to create sharper tools • Firearms for hunting and warfare • Copper and cloth were also in high demand – used for shields and clothing. • Other items traded were: buttons, mirrors and dishes, food that could preserve, and alcohol.
Boom and Bust of Maritimes Trade • The height of the maritime trade was between 1790-1812. • 10-20 ships per year during the peak • By the mid 1800’s the sea otter population became scarce, and the maritime trade began to decline. • by 1900 nearly extinct
LAND BASED TRADE: HBC and NWC • At the same time as the maritime trade, the North West Company (NWC) and Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) were competing for furs in the east (land based trade). • The NWC started with an advantage because they were trading furs in the interior of Canada, where as the HBC was just staying at their forts on the bay. • 2 Companies eventually merged into the HBC
LAND Based Trade for Beaver Pelts • The land based fur trade focused more on beaver pelts, as well as mink, marten, muskrat, fox, and bear. • First Nations demanded the same European trade goods as the maritime traders provided; however the famous HBC blanket became a popular medium of exchange. • European goods limited to canoe transport
Importance of First Nations in the Fur Trade • There would be no fur trade if not for the knowledge and aid of First Nations • Knew the hunting grounds and habits of animals • Taught Europeans how to survive the land • Acted as trappers, traders, and guides. • Posts abandoned if First Nations refused to trade
Women Vital to the Trade First Nations women made the Fur Trade possible Involved in every aspect of the fur trade Participated in traditional male sphere of the economy
WOMEN IN THE FUR TRADE • Roles at Home • left on own to provide for families when men away • prepared furs • Made methods for transportation like snowshoes and canoes • Role in Politics and Social Life • married company employees and created alliances between high-ranking families and company officers ***however – not considered equal and suffered racial discrimination • Role in Communication • Translators and negotiators between 2 cultures • Role on the Road • Worked as guides and trackers
Marriage in the custom of the country Marriage between First Nations women and male European traders was more a verbal oath than a legal binding contract Many First Nations wives abandoned after White European women immigrated to Canada
IMPACTS OF THE FUR TRADE • changed the daily lives of First Nations • increase amount of time on seasonal activities • women busier doing more work • trade oriented tasks replaced traditional harvesting and preparation • dependency on European supplies • Introduction of Disease and Addiction • Contagious diseases and alcoholism • changed traditional settlement patterns • displaced by other aboriginal groups wanting more territory/resources • Introduction of trade goods • in some ways made life easier • increases status of users • Coastal chiefs increased wealth and power substantially
DEVASTATION BY DISEASE • greatest devastation was depopulation due to disease epidemics • estimated pre-contact = 200,000 – 400,000 • by 1900 = 25,000 • decreased by 90-95% • measles and smallpox • First Nations had no immunity since the diseases didn’t exist here in BC • first epidemic was 1770s – smallpox • killed 60% of people infected • 1840s measles epidemic • outbreaks along the trading routes
1862 – single worst epidemic (smallpox) • killed as many at 70% • started in Victoria by a passenger arriving from San Francisco • killed so many, those left were forced to move north • reports of sick and dead left along the coast • epidemic didn’t end at coast • trading networks took disease into interior • devastation • entire villages wiped out • loss of family, communities • leadership destroyed • now all energy to simply cope and survive WAS THIS DONE ON PURPOSE?