Pemmican Empire: Food, Trade, and the Last Bison Hunts in the North American Plains, 1780–1882

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 27, 2014 - Business & Economics - 318 pages
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In the British territories of the North American Great Plains, food figured as a key trading commodity after 1780, when British and Canadian fur companies purchased ever-larger quantities of bison meats and fats (pemmican) from plains hunters to support their commercial expansion across the continent. Pemmican Empire traces the history of the unsustainable food-market hunt on the plains, which, once established, created distinctive trade relations between the newcomers and the native peoples. It also resulted in the near annihilation of the Canadian bison herds north of the Missouri River. Drawing on fur company records and a broad range of Native American history accounts, George Colpitts offers new perspectives on the market economy of the western prairie that was established during this time, one that created asymmetric power among traders and informed the bioregional history of the West where the North American bison became a food commodity hunted to nearly the last animal.
 

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Contents

Changing Food Energy Regimes in the Northern
19
The Pemmican Bioregion 17901810
58
Food Fights and Pemmican Wars 17901816
100
Selling Bison Flesh in the British Market after 1821
148
Commercial War Zones in the Bison Commons 18351850
189
Ending the Pemmican Era
219
Conclusion
260
Fur Trade Food Glossary
267
Bibliography
281
Index
299
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About the author (2014)

George Colpitts is Associate Professor of History at the University of Calgary.