Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Douglas B. Bamforth

Second Advisor

Catherine M. Cameron

Third Advisor

Gerardo Gutierrez

Fourth Advisor

Fred Anderson

Fifth Advisor

Elizabeth A. Fenn


This study uses data from historical accounts, paleoclimatic records, and the archaeological record to understand how equestrian hunter-gatherer groups of the western Great Plains and adjacent Rocky Mountain regions influenced and participated in the Fur Trade economy of these regions. The manner Euroamerican trappers and traders of the early to mid-nineteenth century depended on Native groups is analyzed using these datasets in a new synthesis of this intricate relationship. The narrative that emerges shows how game animal provisioning of trappers and traders, particularly at permanent trading post locations, was an important aspect of the fur trade and a key to the societal syncretism of this time. Equestrian hunter-gatherers of the study region also maintained control of the critical large mammal resource—the bison—that was the basis for the robe and provisioning trade. This Native-centered ethnohistory documents Indian groups as savvy participants in this economic sphere who maintained independence and affluence, as opposed to reliance on Euroamerican trade goods.