Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Over the years a considerable body of literature has developed which concerns itself with the westward expansion of the Dakota. Close examination of the ethnohistoric record indicates a consistent link between the Dakotas' involvement in the fur trade and their westward expansion.
Exception is taken, here, to previous explanations of Dakota population movements developed by Hickerson. Hickerson has argued that the Southwestern Chippewa were able to evict the Dakota from the forest areas about the Upper Mississippi because of the Chippewas' position in the fur trade. Close examination of the ethnohistoric record indicates that Hickerson's approach to Chippewa-Dakota relations, known as fur trade colonialism, was based upon substantial misinterpretation of the record.
Evidence from the ethnohistoric record shows that Hickerson's division of Chippewa-Dakota relations into a peaceful period from 1679-1736 characterized by Chippewa middleman control over the fur trade and a warlike period after 1736 during which Chippewa forces were able to evict the Dakota from the Woodlands was inappropriate to the facts. Evidence from the ethnohistoric record indicates that the general nature of Chippewa-Dakota relations was hostile throughout the period and that the Dakota were able to obtain European trade goods from a variety of sources independent of Chippewa middlemen.
Rather than being evicted from the Woodlands by the Chippewa, the Dakota were attracted to the Plains by the economic potential of a middleman trade position there. The spread of horses onto the Plains from the Southwest and the availability of European trade goods from the Northeast and Southeast created a situation in which the Dakota could profit from the exchange of these exotic products at trade rendezvous. There exists a strong correlation between Dakota westward expansion and changes in these trade relationships.
Holzkamm, Tim E., "Traders of the Plains: The European Fur Trade and the Westward Expansion of the Dakota or Sioux Indians" (1981). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5428.
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