The fur trade of the 1800s played a major role in America’s westward expansion. Soon after the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804, many European Americans were inspired to head out into the Rocky Mountain West in pursuit of the fur trade. Free trappers lived in the mountains to trade furs and skins of beaver and other wild animals with Native Americans, and eventually adopted some of the tribes’ cultural ways of life.
This high frequency of trading developed an economic system between the native people and the Euro-Americans. In exchange for furs and robes, the American Indians received processed and manufactured goods like tobacco, liquor, firearms, tools, metalware, clothing and glass beads.
For more information on the fur trade, visit the Dickson Research Center.