The traders introduced many new goods to North American natives, such as chocolate, tobacco, coffee, and tea. In a short time Indians were raising horses, sheep, watermelons, wheat, and many other domestic plants and animals that enriched their good resources.
The single most important trade good sold to the North American Indians was fabrics, including stylish blankets and every type of European garment, from knit stocking to top hats.
Imagine how wonderful it was for a native woman to fix meals in a brass kettle, prepare food with a steel knife, cut firewood with an ax, cut and sew clothing with scissors and needles, and start fires in seconds with flint and steel.
Hunters came to depend on regular contacts with traders to insure adequate supplies of gunpowder, lead bullets, and gun flints for their firearms. Warriors appreciated the impressive fighting knives, tomahawks, and lances as personal battle gear.
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American Indians were deeply impressed with the goods traders could provide them. Within a short time after contact, Indians and Eskimos became dependent upon their new business partners for everything from weapons, knives, and cooking pots to luxury items such as jewelry, ribbon, and beads.
Representing every type of object exchanged by Europeans and Americans with the native people of North America, the museum displays artifacts such as guns, blankets, beads, axes, knives, and kettles, as well as unusual goods like gimlets, quill smoothers, playing cards, trunks, tobacco boxes, and jewelry.
Guns were a universal part of the trader’s outfit by the late 17th century. Influenced by Dutch designs brought to Britain during the reign of William III, English gun makers in the early 18th century began placing a fancy brass side plate shaped like a sea serpent or snake opposite the locks on guns intended for the Indian trade.
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