A Condensed History of the North American Fur Trade


The evolution of cooking has come a long way since the days of eating, when possible, of the French Canadian Voyageurs and the American Mountain Men, who served as the first working horses carrying the burdens and dangers of the first Canadian fur traders. Americans eat when convenient, possible by contemporary, well-equipped high-tech kitchens.

In popular folklore, the far west fur trade seems to have started with John Colter, a member of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. On their way back to St. Louis, Missouri, from their winter quarters at Ft Clatsop, on the southern coast of the Columbia River mouth, for nearly two years of pilgrimage in the unfamiliar western desert near the end, they arrived in the spring of 1806 in the villages of Mandan, near present-day Mandan, North Dakota.

There they met two border men who were traveling up the Missouri River to hunt fur, Forest Hancock and Joseph Dickson. Colter approached Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and asked permission to join Hancock and Dickson as the only man authorized to leave the expedition before its conclusion. Due to his exemplary service throughout the ordeal, the captains granted their request and thus began two extraordinary years of adventures and wanderings during which, among other achievements, Colter "discovered" Jackson Hole today, Grand Teton National Park and "Colter" # 39; s Hell ", commonly considered the geyser basin of what is now Yellowstone National Park. In fact, it was more likely to be an area later called" Stinkin "Hole, an equally geothermally active region of the Shoshone River to the east. from Yellowstone Park, near nowadays in Cody, Wyoming.

But Cody's best known, some may say there were no adventures, occurred in 1808 when he and his trap partner at the time, a man named John Potts (also Lewis & Clark Expedition veteran) were canoeing down the Jefferson River in what is now southern Montana, south of Three Forks, when they encountered a large band of the hostile and notoriously fierce Blackfoot tribe. The Blackfeets demanded that they land. Colter obeyed, and in so doing was disarmed and undressed. But Potter refused and was shot and wounded. Potter returned the fire and was promptly dispatched after being riddled with Blackfoot bullets and his body cut off.

The Blackfeets held a council to determine Colter's fate, after which Colter was summoned and instructed in Crow to start running. Thus began a remarkable sequence of events. Naked completely and realizing that he was literally running for his life, chased by a bunch of brave young men, each eager to capture the honor of claiming his scalp after several miles of very fast running (note this, all of you marathoners! ) Colter, utterly exhausted and his nose bleeding profusely, turned his head to see everything except a brave loner falling far behind in the race. The rest would be burglar soon beat Colter. What happened next is described in the immortal words of 1817 by John Bradbury, a Scottish botanist who traveled extensively through the American West in the early 19th century:

Again he turned his head and saw the savage within twenty yards of him. Determined, if possible, to avoid the expected blow, he suddenly stopped, turned, and extended his arms. The Indian, surprised at the speed of the action, and perhaps Colter's bloody appearance, also tried to stop; but exhausted by the race, he fell as he tried to throw his spear, which stuck to the ground and broke in his hand. , with which he arrested him on earth and continued his flight ".

Colter also grabbed the blanket from the unfortunate hero-aspirant and continued his flight toward the ultimate escape and freedom until he reached the Madison River, when, with incredible presence of mind, he jumped in, spied a raft near fallen trees pinned against him. other side. From the seat, he grabbed one of the rushes growing next to it, then dived and hid under the raft, using the hollow straw like a straw through which he could breathe as he felt the vibrations of the brave Blackfoot as they raced back and forth through him. from the ferry. he the rest of the day (note this, all of you snorkelers!).

As night fell, the Blackfeet, believing that he had escaped, retreated to their camp at the start of their unlikely race many miles away, and Colter emerged cautiously, alive but cold and aching, from his hiding place and began his retreat. long journey through the mountains and intermediate plains back to the Missouri River and St. Louis. Shortly after retiring to St. Louis, the young (but quite old!) Colter was plagued by a lovely girl, and soon he was caught in the bonds of marital happiness that bound him as surely as his own traps. had arrested. beavers in your previous life. A few years after his engagement and new life as a farmer on nearby land that he had bought with what was left of the proceeds from selling his fur, John Colter passed into Eternity. It was never determined whether John's premature disappearance was the result of a shock caused by the sudden transition of his wanderings through unfamiliar and unfamiliar lands to a life of domesticity or whether the extreme hardships of that strenuous life finally reached him and took its final price in the form. to succumb to an unexpectedly premature maturity.

In fact, the North American fur trade was founded in the early seventeenth century (1608) by French New World settlers, who were initially hired servants who served at the pleasure of their sponsor for a fixed period of time in exchange for their own. assets. passage from Europe to the coasts of North America. In fact, they were slaves to their masters until their commitments were fulfilled and their masters were financially shrewd entrepreneurs. (In fact, there were a small number of equally astute businesswomen in French Canada at the time, who knew no less about the riches to be exploited by exploiting European high demand for the vast wealth of fine fur that the Interior was known to produce and leverage. the economy). the labor of their hired "servants," ie slaves).

These incredibly strong and resilient men (many of today's most legendary would be labeled "Super Men") took the trouble of breaking their backs and long, arduous days of canoeing via Montreal from Montreal in the first break in the spring. to places as far away as the Northern Canadian Rockies (think of Edmonton and Jasper), before returning with hundreds of 90kg bales in late summer, arriving in Montreal just before the freeze. Along the extensive routes of the Quetico Lakes in southern Ontario and the border waters in northern Minnesota, many exhausting passages were required, in which each man, who was usually small, carried two 90 lb packages. in the back for the duration of the pass. . There are documented examples of some men carrying three of these packs in the literature of the time, and traditional tales tell of at least one 6 "and 8" giant who has allegedly carried seven of these packs.

In practice, few of these Voyageurs, as they are generally known throughout the ages, made the entire journey from Montreal to the destination of their cargo and those who spent the winter there. Soon this custom spread to include some who chose to weather the demanding winters of the middle country. (Temperatures at Minnesota's Lake of the Woods weather station are occasionally known to plunge to -60 ° C) comparable to today's freezes in Fairbanks, Alaska, deep in the Cheena River basin, where average temperatures warmed. measurably over the last decades). The standard practice was to break the journey in half, with the eastern and western teams gathering to exchange hundreds of tons of cargo at the annual meeting at Grand Portage, on the bank of a small bay on the north side of Lake Superior, in the opposite corner. from northeast Minnesota. Those who chose to endure the severe harsh winters in the interior of Canada were called hommes du nord (northern men) or hivernants (winters). They often brought native wives, had children, and raised families with them, generating a historically underprivileged and unrecognized class of citizens called Metìs, who tended to congregate in their own settlements along the Red River in Manitoba. Eventually, they were destined to play a significant role in expanding the western fur trade to the south of Louisiana.

Eastern teams were called lard mangeurs (pork eaters) because their diets consisted mainly of salted pork, produced in Montreal and supplied by their owners. Western crews tended to rely mostly on pemmican, the dried and fresh game meat that originally also came from Montreal, but as trade matured, it began to be manufactured at Grand Portage for distribution to Western crews. The meeting served a dual purpose – providing both a place for formal cargo swapping and the occasion for a few days of raucous and obscene debauchery before resuming the arduous journey of the once-departing canoe fleets. sober Voyageurs.

In 1670, the King of France granted an exclusive royal charter for the North American fur trade to the Hudson's Bay Company. Over the next twenty years, policies have changed and restrictions have eased, allowing the formation of its new arch rival, the Northwest Company. The two companies engaged in cruel and violent competition for men, resources, and native alliances to block their sources of fur, as unlike the more advanced Americans on the mountain, Voyageurs rarely engaged in hunting and trapping. if, preferring to leave. this task for the native peoples who have met and trade with the natives for their skins. The emergence of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1770 imposed organization and structure on an industry that until then consisted mainly of a relatively informal and loose confederation of individual masters and their hired employees. With the advent of stiff competition announced by the rise of the Northwest Company, the whole appearance of independent fur operations was extinguished and the two companies fought it until the toll grew so much after twenty years of fighting and stealing from each other. s resources, they were finally forced to merge in 1821.

The merger also signaled the end of Voyageur as a generic water-based adventurer. In fact, these men formed a classified class of expert adventurers. The Voyageurs occupied the highest hierarchy and specifically were employees of the HBC / NWC joint venture who had the highly valued physical abilities and abilities of the traditional Voyageurs. As such, they rarely strayed from their watercraft and waterways. The original and independent Voyageurs (after fulfilling any previous obligations) took the name of coureur des bois, which generally traveled through New France without hindrance and at will. Their numbers declined as HBC / NWC businesses flourished. Finally, there were the engagés, more or less ordinary workers used to the outdoors and skilled in frontier vessels who made themselves available to those who needed their services to do what they were asked to do.

The birth and subsequent growth of the American western fur trade followed a very different path. Its nascent beginnings, certainly when considering formalized organization and structure, can be found in the establishment, with the consent of Thomas Jefferson, then US president, of John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company, in the spring of 1808, even before the return. triumphant St. Louis by Discovery Expedition pioneer Lewis & Clark Corps. and it was a merchant named Manual Lisa who, in the same spring of 1808, promoted John Colter's fateful encounter with two of his men, Forest Hancock and Joseph Dickson, on his way to the river to establish the first American trading post west of the country. Mississippi River, at the mouth of the famous Yellowstone River, where it flows into Missouri, near what is now Williston, North Dakota.

In 1810 Astor mounted an overland expedition to Fort Astoria, which he founded in 1811 with a group of men he had sent around Cape Horn on the American merchant ship Tonquin to compete against the NWC inland posts. By 1813 he had had enough, and alarmed by the unexpected appearance of the British battleship HMS Racoon during the War of 1812, in 1813 he agreed to sell his Astoria assets to the NWC, which renamed Fort George's outpost.

The following years were ups and downs for the Astor American Fur Company until 1822, when William Henry Ashely, in partnership with Andrew Henry, formed the very successful Rocky Mountain Fur, Inc to compete with Astor AFC. The intense competition that followed paralleled ferociously, though later, the previous HBC / NWC contest for power in the fur trade. The discipline it has imposed on the fiercely independent series of American Mountain Men has so far resulted in a system of scheduled encounters at specific locations and times each summer, when hunters who spend the winter in the remote desert, independently and under direct employment. One of the two fur-collecting companies met at a designated time and place to trade their fur for the next year's supplies that they needed to see during the winter.

The annual freight mule supply train returning after each meeting was organized every spring in St. Louis by a famous Great Plains merchant named Bill Sublette and his four brothers. The timing was intricate for the day, as all the distance had to be traveled at a carefully calculated pace to arrive at the agreed time and place of that year's meeting. As they began arriving from every corner of the vast western desert of the Americas, the Mountain Men dispatched horsemen to the east until they saw the distant dust cloud of the slowly approaching Sublette's mule train upon which the mounts swung around. and run headlong to a desperate camp to hear the first sounds of screaming and shouting "He's almost here, he's almost here!" In addition to the various grains and various tools of commerce they would need, as well as the varied sorts of accessories every Highlander chose to fill his "possible bag" and vital gunpowder, musket balls, and beaver traps, Bill was known for packing. prodigious amounts of whiskey, from which no canister ever came out of a single drop of fire, meaning that the next fifty weeks would be bone-dry for mountain men.

The result was a brutally shrill, obscene, quarrelsome event that consistently exceeded even the infamous Voyageurs & # 39; Grand Portage Meeting. The meetings were usually held at convenient locations for Sublette across the South Pass, the large and relatively easy passage through Continental Divide, at the southern end of the rugged Wyoming River Range, which later facilitated most of the time. the pioneer wagon from the west trains first for Oregon and then California, beginning in 1840. Places like Ham's Fork on the Green River that crosses the valley on the west side of the Wind or Bear Lake in Utah.

Many of the mountain men, who were the American version of Canadian French hivernants, like their counterparts, brought native wives and raised families with them, often hiding in remote Indian villages while trapping nearby streams and moving with them as they migrated. whenever conditions required. They usually brought their spouses with them to the meeting, and then continued as they wished. Meetings were often also attended by many brave, warrior, and young native maidens, the maidens mostly by the beads and trinkets they knew Sublette, the brave and warriors mostly by whiskey and the games of strength and strength. agility that characterized these meetings. Most of the time, enmities were set aside for the duration of these celebrations, but not always. There is a little-known Old West term called "Until the Green River." Legend has it that this term was coined during an incident, possibly at a Ham meeting on the Fork. Green River knives were highly prized and sought Sublette specialties for their unusual sharpness and toughness. The story is set that night after draining the contents of a pitcher of "Green River Whiskey" (ie whiskey that Sublette, seeking more lucrative returns, often diluted in Green River water before selling it to hunters) , two hunters who were supposedly not the friendliest terms out of the meeting, became quarrelsome and one thrust the Green River knife into the other to the hilt, killing him instantly. Such drunken violence is hardly uncommon between meetings, and the term "Until the Green River" continues.

There is evidence that, even before the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Metì traders had opened trails from southern Canada to the United States, initially following the Red River south along the border between present-day Minnesota and North Dakota. to its source at the confluence of the Sioux and Otter Tail Bulls between Minnesota and North Dakota. There is some indication that they have reached the Yellowstone and Teton areas in the northwest corner of Wyoming and possibly over Teton Pass, at the southern end of the Teton Range, to the Snake River Valley in Idaho. The latter statement seems to be based primarily on speculation that Grant Teton derives its name, at least in part, from the striking resemblance of its horizon to the bosom of an exceptionally well-endowed woman, or "teton" in colloquial French when viewed. from the west.

Outside this unique period of American history, some of the larger-than-life figures of exclusively American legend and mythology emerged. Men like Jim Bridger, universally regarded by his colleagues at that special time and place as the Supreme Mountain Man among many truly great mountain men. Kit Carson, Joe Meeker, Mike Fink, Hugh Glass, Jed Smith, California Joe Walker, "Broken Hand" Tom Fitzpatrick, "Old" Bill Williams, Jim Beckwourth (who, it may be noted, was unique as part Cherokee and part Afro to name but a few. Let's take a look at one of its most outstanding leaders.

Jedediah Strong Smith was born to Jed Smith and Sally Strong in 1798, one of the leading mountain men of his day. Known as fearful but strict, God fearing, a total exception to the universal code of mountain men, Jed was as widely respected as feared. He was often portrayed as riding through the jungle carrying a Bible in one hand and his musket in the other, equally ready to use as the situation demanded. Rough and fallen hunters quickly learned to care about their tongues when they were in Jed's presence.

In early August 1826, Smith and a group of fifteen hunters set off for their second meeting at Bear Lake, at the northern corner junction of central Utah and southeastern Idaho, bent on finding a route around the forbidden lane. of Sierra Nevada between California and Nevada. The time was known as Spanish Alta California. Crossing the present day from Utah and Nevada, they finally came to a Colorado River crossing between southern California and central Arizona. In the beginning, they took shelter and recovered for a few days in a friendly village of Mojave, near what is now Needles, CA, before being guided through the Mojave Desert by the Mojave Trail by two errant mission deserters. Arriving in the San Bernardino Valley, Smith and his interpreter left for the local mission when he introduced himself to his priest. The next day, the rest of Smith's men arrived, at which point all their weapons were confiscated by the garrison. Smith was soon summoned to appear before the governor of Alta California, San Diego, who expressed alarm over his unauthorized entry into Spanish territories and ordered his arrest while demanding that Smith demand his map and diary. Smith responded by asking permission to travel north along the coast to the Columbia River, where there was an established outpost and access to a well-known route back to US territories. The governor responded by ordering Smith and his party to leave California as they had arrived, giving them room to buy the supplies needed for their return to American lands.

In early 1827, Smith finally obtained his exit visa, but by clearing the settlements, he turned north, exploring and trapping his way to the San Joaquin Valley, California, to the American River, which joined the Sacramento River. near the current Sacramento. Upon reaching it, his group tried to find a route through the Sierra Nevada following its canyon upstream, but was forced back. Realizing that it was too late in the year to reach the Columbia River, Smith took his backpack to the Stanislaus River, where they established a winter camp. Smith then picked two men and forced a difficult Sierra Nevada crossing, eventually descending to the current Walker Lake neighborhood, from where they followed the fastest possible way to make their third encounter at Bear Lake. After a terrifying Great Basin Desert crossing, during which they nearly expired from dehydration under the relentless early summer sun, they arrived at Bear Lake in early July, early in the meeting. Long given up as hopelessly lost in their meanderings or dead, the men were very happy with the appearance of the three hunters and explorers who unexpectedly descended upon them and received them with cannon fire.

Smith immediately left with eighteen Canadian men and two French women, following the same path as last year to fetch the men he had left behind. This time, however, the Mojave became hostile after a confrontation with Taos hunters, and there was a shooting when Smith attempted to cross the river during the course in which ten Smith men were killed, one was seriously injured, and the two women were captured. The eight surviving men retreated and crossed the Mojave Desert on foot before reaching the San Bernardino valley, where they were well received. Smith then drove through the San Joaquin Valley until he met his group from the previous year and together they traveled to Mission San Jose, where they were met with reservations and suspicion, before proceeding to Yerba Buena (now San Francisco) and finally Monterey, then the capital. from Upper California, where the governor resided at the time.

The governor again arrested Smith, along with his men, and held them until several English-speaking residents approved him, after which they were released and immediately ordered to leave Upper California by the fastest route possible. Once again out of sight, Smith and his group remained around Sacramento Valley, imprisoning and hunting for several months. Upon reaching their head, after exploring it, they determined that the northeast route offered by the Pit River was impassable, so they headed northwest toward the Pacific coast, renewing their commitment to finding a way to the Columbia River to His salvation and along the way became the first men to cross the territory of Oregon along the coastal route, reach the Columbia River and return to the Rocky Mountains.

Under the 1818 Treaty, Oregon Country was under joint British and American occupation. Smith and his men soon found the Umpqua tribe, which distrusted their presence. When one of them stole an ax from Smith's party, he and his men treated them severely to force their return. In mid-July, on a night when Smith took two men to explore a trail leading north, the group left behind was attacked while camped on the banks of the Umpqua. At the end of the first week of August, one of them appeared in Fort Vancouver at the mouth of Columbia, severely injured and in tatters. He reported to Factor that he believed he was the only survivor, but did not know the fate of Smith and his two men. Two days later, they also appeared, reporting that, after learning of the attack, had returned, climbed a nearby hill and witnessed. A relief expedition was organized and dispatched to the scene, but all were found dead and decaying and were buried at the scene. Smith remained in Fort Vancouver until 1829, during which time the Factor, Dr. John McLoughlin, treated the survivors, replenished their supplies in exchange for the skins that had been recovered from the massacre site, and restored their health to where they had long been. trip back to Bear Lake, which they completed without incident.

Smith returned to St. Louis in 1830 and decided to abandon the northern fur trade, which had already begun to wane due to a combination of beaver depletion caused by heavy traps and a diminishing demand for beaver skins caused by fashion changes. in Europe they have spread. to North America and experience the trade of Santa Fe and Taos. At the end of May 1831, Smith was traveling with a supply train to negotiate in Santa Fe when he left the train for water and never returned. The train continued, believing that Smith would reach them. He never did. After arriving in Santa Fe, they found a comanchero who owned Smith's personal belongings. After interrogation, the Comanchero confessed that Smith had found a band of Comanche warriors, and after being surrounded, he tried to negotiate with them and solve the problem unsuccessfully. The Comanches then attacked Smith and dispatched him, but not before he killed their boss. It was an ignominious end to such a bold and bold trail blazer.

Pierre's meeting point (in southeastern Idaho, west of the Tetons) is known as the 1832 meeting point as marking the height of the fur trade era in the American West. As noted earlier, the fur trade was already starting to decline. In 1838, the last major gathering was held near present-day Riverton, Wyoming. In 1840, the first Oregon Migration outliers appeared at Jim Bridger's Fort Bridger, near today in Laramie, Wyoming, and most active mountain men had read the inevitable letter on the wall. One by one, they abandoned Trapper's free life, which so long ago took and hired their much-needed skills, knowledge and services for the hordes of novices struggling to cross the vast arid lands between South Pass after traversing the formidable Great Plains to the lush Willamette Valley, with its fantastic terrain of Oregon territory before the onset of winter.

In 1837, a talented young American artist named Alfred Jacob Miller, while visiting New Orleans, joined the Scottish nobleman Sir William Drummond Stewart's exploration / sport expedition, which hired Miller to accompany his expedition to the Rockies. official artist in charge of creating accurate interpretations of everything they encountered along the way. Together with German artist Karl Bodmer, who preceded Miller while accompanying German Prince Maximilian's exploratory expedition to Upper Missouri between 1832 and 1834, they are the only known artists to competently portray the daily activities and environments of the various lowland tribes before. of massive corruption be introduced by fulfilling the doctrine of Manifest Destiny of America.

Of the two, Bodmer could barely make out the horizon beyond the "Bright Mountain" peaks, as the easternmost range of the Northern Montana Rockies was known for its early penetrators. Miller, on the other hand, penetrated the Rocky Mountains enough to watch and record the Green River meeting in 1837 (Siskeedee-Agie) near the present day Daniel, Wyoming. While both left priceless sketches and paintings of great historical interest to the American Fur Trade Era, the Millers were more accurate, detailed and better defined. Besides, Miller is the only one in the scene we have of mountain men in action. In 1838, he returned with Stewart, paintings and drawings in hand, to Stewart's Scottish estate, Murthy Castle, where Stewart took possession of Miller's precious recordings and stored them there. They were never heard until shortly after the end of World War II, when they were discovered hidden in a Dutch attic to prevent them from looting the hands of their Nazi conquerors. Voltando aos Estados Unidos, a maioria agora é preservada em um ambiente cuidadosamente controlado do Smithsonian, onde permanece como um dos nossos maiores tesouros americanos.

Esta é, então, uma breve história do cenário em que as práticas modernas de culinária e alimentação podem ser avaliadas. Substituindo as chaleiras pretas, frigideiras de ferro, espetos frescos e fogueiras que caracterizaram os primeiros exploradores e empreendedores. cozinhas ao ar livre que viajavam para onde andavam e eram montadas sempre que as condições permitidas são hoje as maravilhas das cozinhas domésticas de alta tecnologia, com moedores elétricos, trituradores, fatias, raladores, liquidificadores, liquidificadores, churrasqueiras, fritadeiras, panelas de pressão, aquecedores de comida, caçarola panelas, frangos de corte, fornos de convecção, grelhadores, frigideiras, fornos de microondas, cafeteira / café com leite, refrigeradores de garrafas, máquinas de fazer gelo, geladeiras, freezers, lava-louças, trituradores de lixo, compactadores de lixo e, sim, até cervejarias domésticas.

Nas próximas semanas, iniciaremos discussões sobre isso, dissecando seus vários usos e capacidades, além de apresentar algumas idéias inovadoras de receitas, também através da nossa série de blogs. Nós transformaremos a arte de cozinhar de uma tarefa necessária em um hobby emocionante e agradável com a participação de todos.


Source by Peter G Brabeck