Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Richard J. Preston
The fur trade of the Upper Great Lakes region during the 17th century is examined with the aid of ethnohistorical documents and source materials. Analysis is focused upon the role of the Ottawa, an important collection of native American middlemen, on the French-oriented fur trade. The Ottawa, a loose political federation of Algonkian-speaking peoples, exhibited a rather variable economic adaptation during this era; while territorial or ecological factors are considered in this study, it was concluded that social organizational forms and economic relations were modified, significantly and continually throughout the 17th century, by changing Ottawa perceptions of trade strategies. These perceptions revolved around traditional cultural norms and conventions as well as strictly market considerations such as supply/demand fluctuations. The trade itself, a melange of European and native customs and orthodoxies, was manipulated in various ways to ensure high level of consumption. In effect, the trade financed an intensification of traditional reciprocity, egalitarianism and factional politics; international relations were also affected, as the influx of wealth was used to extend the influence of Ottawa chiefs among other nations, or to engage in the subtleties of baroque power politics with the English and French.
Waisberg, Leo Gilbert, "The Ottawa, Traders of the Upper Great Lakes" (1977). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 309.
McMaster University Library