Transcript Exploring Minnesota
Chapter 5: The Fur Trade
See Oral Tradition on page 57 & 58.
Two Worlds Meet
The North American fur trade began in the early
1600s when French explorers first encountered
Indians along the St. Lawrence River in eastern
Furs were traded for blankets, jewelry, and metal
Two Worlds continued
Soon others arrived along with missionaries
looking to convert the Indians to Christianity.
Before long the fur trade was the biggest
industry that North America had ever seen to
Two Worlds continued
By the 1700s traders from France, Great Britain,
and Holland began to arrive and found
settlements, giving them European names.
Also see “European Explorers and
I want, you want
Europeans wanted furs, especially beaver. See
beaver hats pg. 60.
These were considered symbols of power in Europe
Indians wanted European trade goods such as
woven fabrics, colorful glass beads, metal goods such
as tools, and guns.
Early French Canadian Fur Trap
Going to the Source
Europeans found they could collect more furs if
they went to the Indians instead of the Indians
having to come to them.
In the process, Europeans learned the ways of
the Indians. See page 60.
Going to the Source
The Europeans who traveled to the lands of the
Ojibwe and the Dakota were of three social
See page 60
By the end of the 1700s a few big companies
controlled most of the fur trade.
In Minnesota, the biggest company was the
It’s main competitors were the Hudson Bay
Company and the XY Company.
North West Company post in Pine
Late each summer, crews of men set out from
the central fur post at Grand Portage for
wintering posts throughout the areas that now
make up northern Minnesota and Wisconsin,
including a destination near the St. Croix River,
which was a post run by the North West
Living Together continued…
In the autumn of 1803, the Ojibwe in the area
had someone new to trade with – the XY
Company. For a period of the next 7 months
the Northwest Company and the XY Company
competed over Ojibwe furs.
See pages 62-65 for info on this and the seasonal
activities of the traders.
Living Together continued…..
By 1804, the fur trade was entering its final decades and
in a few years, the newly formed American Fur
Company would take control of the fur trade in the
Traders would have to become U.S. citizens to
participate after the War of 1812.
This was one of the first signs that the new nation,
formed in lands to the east, was now looking west to a
place that would later be called Minnesota.
Gull Lake’s Role in the Fur Trade
Radisson and Groseillers, French organizers fo the England
based Hudson Bay Company, entered what is now MN and WI
to find new sources for furs. Found them but also found Indians
willing to travel as far as Hudson Bay to trade them.
In late 1700s, mostly French independent traders followed the St.
Lawrence in the the MN/Ontario boundary waters and
established many small posts. Eventually these traders organized
themselves into the Northwest Company. No longer would the
Indians have to travel to Hudson Bay.
Competition between the two companies was intense, sometimes
to bloodshed. Finally a merger was negotiated in 1821 under the
name of Hudson Bay Company.
Gull Lake continued….
Used mostly French Canadian voyageurs and their birch
bark canoes to carry trade goods out of Montreal each
spring to posts in the west. Would return in the fall
Some would winter with Indians in the far west and
rendevous with the voyageurs at Grand Portage in July
to exchange furs for goods such as kettles, blankets,
firearms, tobacco, knives, clothing, beads, combs,
sewing tools, flour, salt, liquor, etc.
Gull Lake cont…
Through journals and oral histories, we know
the general (not exact) locations of a few posts:
Between Gull and Round Lakes – Lynde or Round
Lake trading post
At the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi
Rivers – became Crow Wing village
Whitefish Lake (2 posts)
Gull Lake cont….
The post at the mouth of the Crow Wing was
one of the most important in MN – large and
permanent, may have had a population as big as
Both Hole-In-The-Days resided there at times
and the area Ojibwe were of the Gull Lake
Pillager tribe and were under their jurisdiction.
First road in MN was built from Fort Snelling to
Fort Ripley and then to Crow Wing village.
Gull Lake Under Three Flags
Besides Native American ownership:
France 1671-1762, 1800-1803
U.S. as part of Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
Before 1858, part of Louisiana, Missouri,
Unorganized, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa,
Unorganized, and MN territories (in order.)