I'm curious to know how Natives Americans and Europeans colonists traded during the colonization of north-east America.

what kind of currencies (if any) were used? Or did they barter?

  • wampum, kimosabe, and whiskey, wampum and whiskey – Tyler Durden Oct 16 '14 at 1:35
  • Yeah, alcohol was the pre-opium war way of balancing trade. – LateralFractal Oct 16 '14 at 2:36
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    The well known coloured stripes on Hudson's Bay Company merchandise date from this period, with the number of stripes indicating the price in beaver pelts. Link: thebay.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/thebay/… – Pieter Geerkens Oct 16 '14 at 2:45
  • The de facto unit of currency became the adult beaver pelt, with items valued in multiples (and occasionally simple fractions such as 1/2 or 1/3) of this. Wolf and bear pelts were equivalent to a number of beaver pelts, muskrat to a fraction at 2 or 3 to one. – Pieter Geerkens Oct 16 '14 at 3:19
  • @Semaphore what a nice kitty – The Unholy Metal Machine Oct 16 '14 at 22:00

During this time, the Native Americans traded mainly furs and sometimes food.
In exchange, the Europeans gave them items like horses, alcohol, and manufactured goods such as guns, metal cooking utensils, and cloth.

The Indians made good use of the trade goods they received, specifically the axes, knives, and guns. They had quite a good source of income for a good deal of time until the mid 1800's, when changing fashion trends resulted in a collapse of the demand for fur clothing.

Remember that at this time, furs were in high-demand in Europe, due to a shortage. Especially beaver furs, which at that time were fashioned into fancy hats. Other furs were used too, mainly for fashion.

  • Tightly knit and woven articles such as blankets and cloth coats were also highly regarded by Amerindian natives, and could be supplied from across the Atlantic cheaply enough to trade for furs. – Pieter Geerkens Oct 16 '14 at 2:47
  • @PieterGeerkens I had no idea! Do you have any idea why these were highly regarded by Amerindian natives? Was it for cultural reasons? – Chantola Oct 16 '14 at 2:55
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    Because they had no looms, only bone needles instead of steel ones, and no automation while England and the rest of Western Europe was starting to industrialize. A well sewn or knitted coat, brightly coloured, was a much more fashionable item than a routine fur shawl for the future tribal chief. In Europe, the latest beaver hat and stole marked the fast-track burgher out from his colleagues in mere woven coats and hats. Rarity and quality, combined, always carry high market value. – Pieter Geerkens Oct 16 '14 at 3:14
  • @PieterGeerkens Ahh.. thank you. I believe that would fall in the "manufactured goods" section. The more you know. – Chantola Oct 16 '14 at 3:16
  • thx for answer and comment. Your answer reminds me I'm sure having saw in a movie some natives asking some blankets as payment – The Unholy Metal Machine Oct 16 '14 at 21:54

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