Field Trip Quests: Fur Trade

Field Trip Quests: Fur Trade

Fur Trade Post

In the Fur Post Quest, students enter the world of an 1807 Minnesota Fur Post. Students are challenged to help Monsomanain, an Ojibwe hunter, or John Sayer, a company clerk, to make wise trades in and around the fur post. Once students understand the varied roles at the fur post, they learn real world skills of making successful trades.

Level 1: Students helping the hunter "trap" eight beaver pelts by scanning beaver floor tiles to prepare for trading. Students helping the clerk, use ten beaver pelts, provided on credit from the Fur Company in Montreal, to stock their store. All of this collecting is in preparation for important trades in Level 2!

Level 2: Students use the goods they obtained in Level 1 to trade with each other - negotiating in real time their trades. Hunters finish Level 2 by trading furs for a total of five European goods. Clerks finish Level 2 by trading goods for 15 beaver pelts - making a total profit of five beaver pelts

Digital Artifacts

Ax Head

Ax heads were a hot commodity at the fur post. Forged in England, the Europeans brought them to the fur post to trade for pelts. The Ojibwe appreciated these strong and durable tools for their multi-purpose uses around their camps.

Check out an ax head in the MNHS Collection

Ax Head

Ax heads were a hot commodity at the fur post. Forged in England, the Europeans brought them to the fur post to trade for pelts. The Ojibwe appreciated these strong and durable tools for their multi-purpose uses around their camps.

Check out an ax head in the MNHS Collection

Bandolier Bag

Beautifully decorated bandolier bags were a special item at the fur post. Ojibwe women skillfully decorated leather hide pouches worn by both Ojibwe and European men. The bags were decorated with materials like porcupine quills or trade items like glass beads from Europe with nature designs such as flowers and leaves. Did you get a chance to see some bandolier bags in the exhibit?

Check out an MNHS Collections Up Close about bandolier bags

Bandolier Bag

Beautifully decorated bandolier bags were a special item at the fur post. Ojibwe women skillfully decorated leather hide pouches worn by both Ojibwe and European men. The bags were decorated with materials like porcupine quills or trade items like glass beads from Europe with nature designs such as flowers and leaves. Did you get a chance to see some bandolier bags in the exhibit?

Check out an MNHS Collections Up Close about bandolier bags

Beads

Glass beads from Italy, Holland, and Bohemia were popular with Ojibwe women as an additional way to show off their design skills on everything from moccasins to Bandolier bags. Beautiful nature patterns were stitched onto clothing along with shells, bones, clay beads, and porcupine quills along with European items like mirrors, bells and sequins.

Check out the beads in the MNHS Collection

Beads

Glass beads from Italy, Holland, and Bohemia were popular with Ojibwe women as an additional way to show off their design skills on everything from moccasins to Bandolier bags. Beautiful nature patterns were stitched onto clothing along with shells, bones, clay beads, and porcupine quills along with European items like mirrors, bells and sequins.

Check out the beads in the MNHS Collection

Beaver Pelt

The pelt preparers readied the furs for trade. Dakota and Ojibwe women carefull cut the skin off the animal and turned it inside out. This protected the fur, which was the most valuable part to the Europeans.

Beaver Pelt

The pelt preparers readied the furs for trade. Dakota and Ojibwe women carefull cut the skin off the animal and turned it inside out. This protected the fur, which was the most valuable part to the Europeans.

Blanket

Traders brought wool blankets from European mills to trade to the Ojibwe for beaver pelts. The Ojibwe had always worn clothes made of tree fibers and animal hides but they enjoyed European fabrics because they time they could save skinning and preparing hides for wear. Clothing made from blankets and fabric was lighter and easier to clean as well so the Ojibwe women could spend their time working on other activities around camp.

Blanket

Traders brought wool blankets from European mills to trade to the Ojibwe for beaver pelts. The Ojibwe had always worn clothes made of tree fibers and animal hides but they enjoyed European fabrics because they time they could save skinning and preparing hides for wear. Clothing made from blankets and fabric was lighter and easier to clean as well so the Ojibwe women could spend their time working on other activities around camp.

Fabric

It was the women's job to make clothing, and it took a lot of time to scrape and process animal hides. Clohing made of out fabric was easy to keep dry and clean, and it saved time making animal hide clothing.

Fabric

It was the women's job to make clothing, and it took a lot of time to scrape and process animal hides. Clohing made of out fabric was easy to keep dry and clean, and it saved time making animal hide clothing.

Fur Post Map

Hundreds of trading posts were set up in Minnesota by the French, British, and American fur traders. Some were used only one year and left little evidence. Some lasted for a decade or more and had more permanent structures. A few were major enters for trade and gathering points for rendezvous each spring.

Fur Post Map

Hundreds of trading posts were set up in Minnesota by the French, British, and American fur traders. Some were used only one year and left little evidence. Some lasted for a decade or more and had more permanent structures. A few were major enters for trade and gathering points for rendezvous each spring.

Gun

Europeans brought gun to the fur post for Ojibwe hunters. Sometimes they brought specially-made guns for the fur trade, with triggers large enough to use while wearing mittens!

Gun

Europeans brought gun to the fur post for Ojibwe hunters. Sometimes they brought specially-made guns for the fur trade, with triggers large enough to use while wearing mittens!

Gunpowder

Gunpower was very important if you want your gun to work. The Europeans would have brought large supplies of it to the post.

Gunpowder

Gunpower was very important if you want your gun to work. The Europeans would have brought large supplies of it to the post.

Hoe

Hoes and other tools made of metal were popular items at the fur post. They lasted longer than tools made of stone and bone.

Hoe

Hoes and other tools made of metal were popular items at the fur post. They lasted longer than tools made of stone and bone.

John Sayer

John Sayer was a wintering partner at the Snake River fur post near current day Pine City. He spent most of his life in Canada, but in 1804 he came to Minnesota to create the Snake River trading post for the North West Company.

John Sayer

John Sayer was a wintering partner at the Snake River fur post near current day Pine City. He spent most of his life in Canada, but in 1804 he came to Minnesota to create the Snake River trading post for the North West Company.

Kettle

Metal kettles were a very popular item among the Ojibwe at the fur post. Prior to the fur trade, pots and containers made from clay or woven baskets were used. Metal was easier to cook with and lasted longer.

Check out a kettle in the MNHS Collection

Kettle

Metal kettles were a very popular item among the Ojibwe at the fur post. Prior to the fur trade, pots and containers made from clay or woven baskets were used. Metal was easier to cook with and lasted longer.

Check out a kettle in the MNHS Collection

Knife

Europeans brought many metals goods to the fur post. Items like steel knives were very popular; American Indians used them alongside traditional tools made from bone, stone, and shell.

Knife

Europeans brought many metals goods to the fur post. Items like steel knives were very popular; American Indians used them alongside traditional tools made from bone, stone, and shell.

Monsomanian

Monsomanain was an Ojibwe hunter who was one of the first to bring pelts to the Snake River fur post that John Sayer worked at around the year 1804.

Monsomanian

Monsomanain was an Ojibwe hunter who was one of the first to bring pelts to the Snake River fur post that John Sayer worked at around the year 1804.

Musket Balls

Musket balls are small metal bullets used with musket guns. They were bought at the fur trade post for hunting animals for meat and pelts.

Musket Balls

Musket balls are small metal bullets used with musket guns. They were bought at the fur trade post for hunting animals for meat and pelts.

Muskrat Spears

These spears made of iron were great for hunting muskrats. The Ojibwe used both traditional spearheads made of stone and the iron ones brought by Europeans during the fur trade.

Muskrat Spears

These spears made of iron were great for hunting muskrats. The Ojibwe used both traditional spearheads made of stone and the iron ones brought by Europeans during the fur trade.

Ojibwe Woman

American Indian women were very important to the fur trade. In addition to cleaning the pelts, women were the ones who provided many of the resources that kept the trade going, such as: wild rice, maple sugar and materials to make and repair canoes. Some women learned French and English and served as interpreters, translating the conversations between European and American Indians. They built an important link between communities by marrying traders. These marriages helped form family bonds that strengthened business ties. The children of these marriages came to play key roles in the fur trade.

Ojibwe Woman

American Indian women were very important to the fur trade. In addition to cleaning the pelts, women were the ones who provided many of the resources that kept the trade going, such as: wild rice, maple sugar and materials to make and repair canoes. Some women learned French and English and served as interpreters, translating the conversations between European and American Indians. They built an important link between communities by marrying traders. These marriages helped form family bonds that strengthened business ties. The children of these marriages came to play key roles in the fur trade.

Plume

Ostrich plumes came from Africa. They were prized for being beautiful decorations.

Plume

Ostrich plumes came from Africa. They were prized for being beautiful decorations.