Tag Archives: Hudson’s Bay Company trade gift

Dependence and Control: Indian-European Trade Relations in the Post-Kelsey Era

This chapter from the 1993 book Three Hundred Prairie Years: Henry Kelsey’s “Inland Country of Good Report” came about as a result of the Henry Kelsey Tri-Centennial Conference held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada on 22 – 23 November 1991 to mark the 300th anniversary of the beginning of recorded history in the region with the 1690 arrival of Henry Kelsey under the guidance of Asssinae Poets (Assiniboine).

This chapter summarises the findings of the author Paul C. Thistle’s 1986 book Indian-European Trade Relations in the Lower Saskatchewan River Region to 1840. Manitoba Studies in Native History II.  This overview refutes the common interpretation that First Nations in the Western Subarctic rapidly became “dependent” on a European-dominated fur trade economy soon after first contact.

The full text of this “Dependence & Control: Indian-European Trade Relations in the Post-Kelsey Era” chapter along with introductory material is available by clicking thistle-dependence-control-in-epp-1993-comments .

NOTES: Paul C. Thistle’s original slide presentation at the conference resulting in the publication of this book Three Hundred Prairie Years: Henry Kelsey’s “Inland Country of Good Report” titled “Images of the Native-Kelsey Relationship” (that was essentially a critique of the visual history of the Henry Kelsey First Nations guided tour of the region) was not deemed appropriate for a chapter in this book. Instead, the book’s editor commissioned the author to write this chapter.

A version of Paul C. Thistle’s conference slide presentation was however published later as a 1994 illustrated article titled “Images of Native People Associated with the Kelsey Event” in Native Studies Review 9 (1):33-50. It also is available on this web site by clicking the link.

The feature image above is the logo of the 1990 Kelsey Tricentennial Conference in The Pas (known in one version of the Cree as “Opasquiak“), Manitoba, Canada created by First Nation artist Dean B. Head.  The intent of this design was to provide an alternate visual history portraying the crucial role of Kelsey’s First Nation guides that typically have been ignored in the traditional and contemporary artistic portrayals of the story.  See the analysis of these images in Paul C. Thistle’s “Images of Native People Associated with the Kelsey Event” .

The full printed version of the national, provincial, & academic award-winning publication book Indian-European Trade Relations in the Lower Saskatchewan River Region to 1840 is freely available under a Creative Commons License on this web site.

The book Three Hundred Prairie Years includes the main sections of the text, commentary, & Endnotes on the journal of Henry Kelsey’s travels in Part VII “Henry Kelsey’s Journals and Correspondence” pp. 196-235.

For additional background on the Henry Kelsey journal, the Manitoba Historical Society also has posted on-line a paper read before the Manitoba Historical Society “The Journal of Henry Kelsey, 1691-1692 : The First White Man to Reach the Saskatchewan River . . .” by Charles Napier Bell, 1928, Manitoba Historical Society Transactions Series 2, No. 4.

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Rare HBC Gift Item to First Nations Leaders

A rare gold plated pendant given to First Nations trade leaders is featured on the Canadian Museum of History web site article Symbol of Change.

The piece is significant because “most trade jewelry given to Aboriginal people was made of silver, not gold plate. Second, it is a rare example of gold work from well-known Montréal silversmith Charles Arnoldi (1779–1817).”

Beyond this, it represents the need for the HBC to solidify close ties with  First Nations trade leaders to combat competition:

The pendant would have been perceived by many as a sign of equality between traders and Aboriginal people in the Western regions. “Aboriginal people tended not to trade unless they had some kind of bond with the traders,” says Timothy P. Foran, Curator of British North America at the Museum. “For the most part, they engaged in trade on their own terms and European newcomers had to respect Aboriginal customs. . . “

Although apparently incorrectly described by the CMH as “engraved” rather than embossed, the pendant presents additional material evidence supporting the interpretation of Paul C. Thistle’s Indian-European Trade Relations in the Lower Saskatchewan River Region to 1840.

An inquiry about this artifact obtained full curatorial descriptive information.  Courtesy of the Canadian Museum of History, see the PDF of this detailed record at CMH Pendant Data FM Paul Thistle.

HBC gold plated pendant gifted to First Nation trade leader. Canadian Museum of History mch2_09_2015.png

Oval gold-plated lead pendant, 10 cm x 7.5 cm, struck 1800–1815, & gifted to First Nation trade leaders. Canadian Museum of History mch2_09_2015.png