Gifts for the Indians: French and Spanish Trade Goods on the Texas Coast in the 1680s

Author(s): Bradford Jones

Year: 2014


La Salle’s 1684 expedition to establish a French settlement on the Mississippi River unexpectedly resulted in one of the first prolonged engagements between Native American and European peoples living along the Texas Gulf coast. Among the many items brought by the French were tremendous amounts of European material goods meant as gifts for the Native American communities, nearly a million of which remained in the hold of La Belle when it sank in Matagorda Bay in 1686. This paper reviews La Belle’’s excavated trade goods assemblage and compares it with the archival records of trade goods provisioned to Spanish maritime expeditions to find La Salle and his colony. The comparison of these assemblages reflects the particular cultural logics and practices of the French and Spanish as well as insight into the character of early trade assemblages intended for Native American communities. More than simply trade goods, these gifts represent a transformative moment not only for the people they came in contact with, but in the way mundane European objects were re-imagined in the New World.

Cite this Record

Gifts for the Indians: French and Spanish Trade Goods on the Texas Coast in the 1680s. Bradford Jones. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436993)

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-45,02