Creating the Past in the Present: Critical Reflections on Fur Trade Archaeology

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2014

This session proposes to look at how recent developments in theoretical approaches to the North American fur trade have shaped the kinds of questions we ask about this phenomenon, as well as the relevance of fur trade archaeology to current issues on identity, politics, and race. Participants are invited to take a critical look at the way fur trade archaeology has been carried out in the past and the state of research in the present: have our recent approaches to the fur trade and colonial encounters in the Great Lakes region brought meaningful insight onto the past? Has our knowledge of the fur trade challenged our conceptions of colonialism? Alternatively, scholars may also reflect on the ways historical and archaeological studies have served to create the past in the present in producing particular narratives in the United States and Canada. What political and economic stakes are involved in the production of such narratives?

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-6 of 6)

  • Documents (6)

  • Du Luth and Hennepin among the Dakota: The Archaeology of Initial French Exploration West of Lake Superior (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Mather.

    In the late seventeenth century, the area that is now the State of Minnesota was the frontier of exploration for New France. At the western edge of Lake Superior, Minnesota offered passage into the then-unknown extent of the Mississippi River watershed, and establishment of trade with the Dakota (Sioux) Indians. Daniel Greysolon Sieur du Luth traveled across the Great Lakes and overland to the Dakota communities at Mille Lacs Lake in 1679. Father Louis Hennepin resided at Mille Lacs among the...

  • The fur trade and recent Aboriginal history (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Scott Hamilton.

    Scholarly interest in the western Canadian fur trade tends to focus on a time of intense European commercial competition, exploration and colonial appropriation (ca. 1763 to 1821). As the fur trade declined over the subsequent 150 years, both it and its Aboriginal participants became increasingly marginalized in the national historical synthesis. Aboriginal history, deriving in part from the Oral Tradition, documents how the fur trade figured in an evolving hunter-gatherer ‘reality’ that...

  • The Fur Trade Narrative at Its Source: The Creation of the Voyageur (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Amelie Allard.

    In North America, fur traders occupy a central place in the mythology of nation building, yet this image of the voyageur and coureurs des bois as an emblem of the fur trade and of something bigger, of nation, does not appear in a vacuum. By deconstructing particular narratives created by members of the fur trade community, this paper will explore some of the writings that set in motion the creation of a new stereotype of the voyageur that still captures the imagination. Very few authors, and...

  • The Questions That Count in Fur Trade Archaeology (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Nassaney.

    Fur trade archaeology mirrors in microcosm the development of the broader field of historical archaeology and reflects changes in its research priorities as influenced by factors both internal and external to the discipline. While contemporary theory informs recent approaches to the fur trade and colonial encounters, traditional concerns have not disappeared. Continued interest in chronology, architecture, spatial organization, subsistence, technological change, cultural interactions, and...

  • Reconsidering Representations in Fur Trade Archaeology (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kaila Akina.

    Archaeological studies of the North American fur trade have included several lines of evidence from historical texts to oral histories to actual material remains. Revisiting documentary sources, specifically representations, relating to the activities of the fur trade and its participants can provide insight into how specific images, emotions, or messages were portrayed or even promoted. Furthermore, the analysis of images allows scholars to examine how those images have been used and for what...

  • Trading insights: new visions of colonialism from opposite ends of the northeast fur trade (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Katherine Hayes.

    Beginning in the 17th century, wampum and furs or hides traced a new system of circulation from the eastern seaboard to the interior west of the Great Lakes. These items moved across an immensely diverse field of colonial entanglements. Yet these ends of the circuit are not often brought into comparison, or are made comparable in a problematic framework of colonialism which takes the inevitability of colonial outcomes as a given. What is the utility in bringing the early and densely settled...