“Impressive and ambitious, covering centuries of time and much of the North American continent. . . . Admirably balances the enormous numbers of sites, peoples, historical events, and colonial enterprises with some of the important research directions that have defined and are defining the field of fur trade studies in archaeology. . . . Absorbing.”—Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology
“Demonstrates that what we perceive about the fur trade often reflects origin myths of modern USA and Canada. The fur trade has also been a ‘test bed’ for scholarly consideration of processes of culture contact, diffusion, and acculturation. By leading the reader through these divergent narratives, Nassaney makes clear that critical examination and reflection is an essential part of scholarship, and that the fur trade is fertile ground for rethinking old ideas through new interpretive filters.”—Journal of Anthropological Research
“Data rich and theoretically robust. . . . One of the key points repeatedly highlighted by Nassaney is the active role of both Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in the fur trade, in contrast to traditional narratives which emphasize European colonization and trade as shaping largely passive Indigenous societies.”—Canadian Journal of Archaeology
“Provides a synthesis of the fur trade through time and across the continent. . . . Offer[s] consistent, coherent explanations of archaeological findings.”—Choice
The North American fur trade left an enduring material legacy of the complex interactions between natives and Europeans. From the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, the demand for pelts and skins transformed America, helping to fuel the Age of Discovery and, later, Manifest Destiny.
By synthesizing its social, economic, and ideological effects The Archaeology of the North American Fur Trade reveals how this extractive economy impacted the settlement and exploitation of North America. Examinations of the objects made, used, and discarded in the course of the fur trade provide insight into the relationships between participants and their lifeways. Furthermore, Michael Nassaney shows how the ways in which exchange was conducted, resisted, and transformed to suit various needs left an indelible imprint upon the American psyche, particularly in the way the fur trade has been remembered and commemorated.
Including research from historical archaeologists and a case study of the Fort St. Joseph trading post in Michigan, this innovative work highlights the fur trade’s role in the settlement of the continent, its impact on social relations, and how its study can lead to a better understanding of the American experience.
Michael S. Nassaney, professor of anthropology at Western Michigan University, is coeditor of Interpretations of Native North American Life.