Essay The Fur Trade Period in the Indian Territory

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The Fur Trade Period in the Indian Territory

Images of rough faced, Grizzly Bear fighting, firewater drinking, yarn spinning, frontiersmen form in the minds eye. Wild men for wild times! To a degree this image is true, but the fur trade was more than wild men. The fur trade was a business, conducted by businessmen. The wilder men living on the frontier chose trapping. Fashion created the fur trade as businessmen sought to satisfy the tastes of designers and customers back east and in Europe, where furs and hides were necessities for fashionable clothing and accessories. Fashions also affected the Indians who sought, silver, vermillion, glass beads, and clothe from traders. Each group depended on the other to supply the resources.
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In 1824, due to escalating conflicts between Osages and eastern tribes, the government constructed Ft. Gibson at the mouth of the Neosho on the Arkansas River, thus adding government settlers or merchants to the mix of traders and changing trade practices in the area forever. "Should peace be restored, the different tribes would turn their attention altogether to hunting, consequently the Arkansas River would become as valuable highway as the Mississippi and Missouri for the transportation of furs and other articles of Indian trade," A.P. Chouteau.
As the Civilized Tribes were being relocated, the U.S. army sent expeditions west. While preparing for one such expedition, Washington Irving in his journal "A Tour of the Prairies" recounts the scene at Chouteau's trading post as;" a few log houses on the banks of the river, surrounded by a group of Osages simple in garb and aspect, a party of Creeks quite oriental in their appearance, a sprinkling of trappers, hunters, half-breeds, Creoles, Negroes, and other rabble of nondescript beings between civilized and savage life".
The fur trade also took place along the Red River. Here no one trader dominated like the Chouteau family of the three forks area. Independent traders established posts along the Red River to trade with the Kiowas and Comanches and the Choctaws and Chickasaws. Josiah Doaks began a small post near the junction of the Kiamichi and Red Rivers in 1821.
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