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THE FUR TRADE ERA. Chapter 4. EUROPEAN EXPANSION. Northwest one of last regions of European colonialism 1700s Europeans had explored and colonized rest of world England and Spain rivaled for supremacy of Pacific better access to Asian markets looking for Northwest Passage

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  1. THE FUR TRADE ERA Chapter 4

  2. EUROPEAN EXPANSION • Northwest one of last regions of European colonialism • 1700s Europeans had explored and colonized rest of world • England and Spain rivaled for supremacy of Pacific • better access to Asian markets • looking for Northwest Passage • Russians crossed the Bering Strait and moved south

  3. THE NUU-CHAH-NULTH MEET COOK • James Cook 1778 • to claim uninhabited lands for Britain • landed west coast Vancouver Island • spent 1 month with Nuu-chah-nulth people • misinterpreted name as “nutka” (Nootka) • means “go around” (to find safe anchorage) • spent time repair ships, crew rest, trade • left with 1500 sea otter pelts • great profit from sale in China • begins the race for west coast furs

  4. MARITIME FUR TRADE • following 25 years, nearly 200 from Britain, Spain and US to trade for sea otter • included timber • claimed sovereignty over land in name of king/queen • European traders stayed aboard expecting the First Nations to bring the furs • sometimes taken ashore and honoured with a feast • First Nations integrated Europeans into traditional social system • treated the visitors as visiting chiefs • welcoming ceremony • blowing eagle down as sign of peace • expected exchange of gifts before negotiation • often women had important say in final price

  5. sought after trade items by First Nations • iron – chisels, axes • firearms • copper • cloth • food items to be stored – rice, molasses, biscuits • 10-20 ships per year during the peak • by 1840s sea otter population scarce • by 1900 nearly extinct • maritime trade in decline by 1820s

  6. LAND-BASED FUR TRADE • soon after maritime trade started, traders from overland crossed the Rockies • Northwest Company first to push through • Alexander Mackenzie first to reach Pacific at Bella Coola 1793 • Fraser and Thompson in early 1800s • Fraser established first forts • Fort McLeod 1805 • HBC continued expansion after merge with NWC • land based trade chiefly on beaver fur • European goods limited to canoe transport • guns • blankets became principal trade item • foods – sugar, flour, tobacco

  7. First Nations as skilled traders - (remember – First Nations had been trading for thousands of years) - women’s participation (68) ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS From the Journal of Vancouver’s Voyage, 1793-1794: Trading with the Kitkatla, 1793 In traficing for some furs & curiosites it was observed that neither of the men would close a bargain let it be ever so advantageous without first consulting the women, & if any of them gave a negative to it or made any objections, the things were instantly handed into the Ship. From Charles Bishop’s Log of the Ruby: Trading with the Haida, 1795 Seeing so many Women about the Ship one would Suppose nothing hostile was Intended, but it is to be remembered that the Eannas [women] are Kings, and Govern the men throughout these Islands, with a degree of dispoticAthority. What ever they Say the men must do. Nor dare the men Sell a Single fur without first shewing the Goods to Eanna.

  8. Europeans integrated into complex trading system • depended on First Nations for furs and food • tribes controlling trade routes pre-contact continued to exercise control • fort increased status and power • HBC forts • extended down to mouth Columbia river • headquarters was Fort Vancouver (Washington) • after 1846 and Oregon Treaty, Fort Victoria became headquarters • forts were to be protection against hostile environment

  9. WOMEN IN THE FUR TRADE • women played an integral role • left on own to provide for families when men away • prepared furs • extra work of cleaning salmon • participation in social structure of fort life • married company employees and their families lived in fort • marriages as alliances between high-ranking families and company officers • political and economic bond • on personal level • provided companionship and domestic duties • however – not considered equal and suffered racial discrimination • sometimes abandoned when men returned to Europe • able to bridge gap between cultures

  10. 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 • changed traditional settlement patterns • displaced by other aboriginal groups wanting more territory/resources • trade goods • in some ways made life easier • increases status of users • Coastal chiefs increased wealth and power substantially

  11. 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

  12. 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 • hit people harder than any cannon fire could have • epidemic didn’t end at coast • trading networks took disease into interior • devastation • entire villages wiped out • 60-90% of population died in others • loss of family, communities • leadership destroyed • now all energy to simply cope and survive

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