Beads of the Bison Robe Trade

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The Fort Union Trading Post Collection. 

One of the most popular trade items in North America were beads. Beads were used by the North American Indians long before the Europeans sailed the seas to our shores; they would decorate their bodies, clothing, and personal items with elaborate patterns and colors, and here at Fort Union we offer a wide variety of Glass Seed Beads.  Seed Beads can be found on most North American Indian clothing and accessories.  Most beads during the fur trade were made from glass and were sailed from Italy, Bohemia, and the Netherlands. This sampler includes glass seed beads similar to those traded during the fur trade era, and popular for beading today.

In Beads of the Bison Robe Trade, Author Steven Leroy DeVore takes us through four seasons of archeological investigations which were conducted at the Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, North Dakota and Montana, between 1968 and 1972.

Fort Union Trading Post served as the major outpost of the American Fur Company on the Upper Missouri River between 1829 and 1865. It traded hands until 1867, when it was sold to the U.S. Army who tore the fort down the following year for materials to be used in the construction of Fort Buford. The excavations were conducted at the fort in order to obtain structural information for reconstruction. These investigations recovered several varieties of trade beads, including glass, bone, and shell beads. The glass trade beads represent a major artifact assemblage from the mid-nineteenth century when glass beads had replaced the traditional quillwork of the Plains Indians. Bone and shell beads were produced for the trade to supplement the existing native trade in these items. This informational text includes descriptions and photographs of the beads recovered during the archaeological excavations. Paperback.

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