Lesson One: "Old Misery" and the Fur Trade

Focus Questions:

How did fur traders travel here?

Why were relationships between traders and Indian tribes important?

How did the War of 1812 affect the fur traders and Indians living here?

Imbedded Information In The Student Lesson:

Bullboats; keelboats; Fort Aux Cedres; trade beads


Get Acrobat

A Changing Land Word Scramble

Trap the Beaver

Classroom Activities:

     To help students experience the process of trading, have them each bring a used book from home and pencil their names inside. In class, have students give a short talk on why his or her book is a good one to read. Then place all the books in a container labeled the Book Trading Post. Let the students look them over and trade among themselves. Discuss the process of trading. Why were they willing to give up their book (did not like it; had two copies; wanted something different, etc.), and what were they looking for in trade (a better or new story; a newer book; etc.). Trading can be mutually beneficial, allowing each party to come away with something he or she values.  To help them understand that food and other items were also part of the trade, you could expand the exercise to include small snacks and/or other items.

     Check out the suitcase education kit "Fur Trade: Bridging Two Worlds" from the South Dakota State Historical Society. Filled with hands-on objects and activities, the kit helps students learn about the environmental, economic, social, and cultural aspects of the fur trade. Objects include buffalo-hide samples, pelts, beads, trade silver, quillwork, trade cloth, ribbon, and other trade goods. To reserve a kit for your class, email ronette.rumpca@state.sd.us or call 1-605-773-6011.