The maritime fur trade before the maritime fur trade on the Pacific Coast of North America: Canadian Studies Colloquium

Colloquium: Lunch Talk | November 15 | 12-1:30 p.m. | 223 Moses Hall

 Iain McKechnie, University of Victoria

 Canadian Studies Program (CAN))

A Talk by Dr. Iain McKechnie
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Hakai Institute Scholar, University of Victoria, Canada

The maritime fur trade on the Pacific Coast of North America (ca. AD 1778-1850) was a historically consequential process that unfolded throughout the Indigenous territories of what is now called western Canada and the United States of America. Tens of thousands of astronomically valuable sea otter pelts were obtained by Indigenous chiefs and traded with visiting Russian, European, and American ship captains, who then transported these pelts across the Pacific Ocean and sent profits back to eastern North America and Europe. The enormous wealth generated by this trade encircled the northern hemisphere but also amplified existing political dynamics within and between Indigenous communities. However, much less is known about how this relatively short-lived period of trade relates to (and was preceded by) thousands of years of intensive occupation, use, and political control of the coast including the role of otter pelts in Indigenous hunting and ceremonial traditions. This talk reviews the archaeological evidence for sea otters on the Pacific Northwest Coast and sketches some historical ecological hypotheses about their former abundance and the ongoing political ecological importance of this iconic marine mammal species.

Part of the Canadian Studies Colloquium Series. Sponsored by the Consulate General of Canada in San Francisco | Silicon Valley

Buffet Lunch at 12 Noon followed by talk at approximately 12:20. This event is free and open to everyone.