A Diachronic Perspective on the Materiality of Fur Trade Beads and Beading


  • Tristan Pederson MacEwan University


Glass trade beads were common items of the historical North American fur trade.  This paper focuses on better contextualizing glass beads in trade, in fur trade society, and to fur trade archaeology, using a small assemblage excavated from a Nadleh Whut’en house near to Fort Fraser, British Columbia.  While beads were not essential to the physical survival of their Indigenous recipients, they were useful to the European traders in establishing reciprocal relationships vital to their success and survival.  In fur trade society, glass trade beads were items of materiality that came to be entangled with events, experiences and Indigenous women’s identity. They may thus be useful for further understanding Indigenous women who were excluded from primary historical documents.

Department: Anthropology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Paul Prince