Prominent individuals caught up in the conflict
Nisqually Indian relationships with the Hudson Bay Trading Company
The circumstances leading to heightened hostilities
The events of the Indian Wars
A Nisqually leader is tried for murder
The legend continues into the present
Teacher's Guide: Lesson Plans, Learning Requirements, etc
Fur Trading at Fort Nisqually: A Part of the 19th Century Global Economyby Drew Crooks, 2007
As seen in its coat of arms, with its depictions of various animals, fur trading was an important part of business operations for the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) for most of its history. In 1833 Fort Nisqually was established by the HBC to trade with Native Americans for animal pelts. Over time, the fur trade at the Nisqually station declined, but the post continued to collect furs until it closed in 1869.
Surviving records of Fort Nisqually, including letters and journals, are full of references to the trade. These documents indicate that many different types of furs were acquired at Fort Nisqually. They included beaver, cougar, fisher, fox, land otter, lynx, marten, mink, muskrat, and raccoon. Still, beaver was the fur preferred by the Hudson's Bay Company above all. Indeed, this animal pelt formed the standard of the HBC's "made-beaver" rating system that measured everything that was traded at Company posts.
A dramatic event in the history of Fort Nisqually was the coming of the Brigade over the Naches Pass to the station in 1855 with the year's fur returns from the various HBC posts in Washington and Oregon territories. Usually, the Brigade went to Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River. Edward Huggins, in one of his reminiscences of life at Fort Nisqually, wrote about how the furs were brought to Nisqually and supplies provided for the interior Company posts and their employees. Every year in August, this historical moment is reenacted at the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum's Brigade Encampment in Tacoma.
Most furs that came to Fort Nisqually were exchanged by Native American traders for British manufactured goods. Like the trading post employees, Native Americans were shrewd business people who knew what they wanted from the British company. Wool blankets were especially valued by Native people. Other items received in trade for furs included traps, guns, ammunition, woolen garments, and metal cooking utensils. These goods changed the lives of Native Americans. For example, woolen garments replaced traditional cedar bark clothing and metal pots took the place of cooking baskets.
After the furs were acquired at Fort Nisqually, they were prepared for shipment. Fur presses compressed the pelts into bundles that could easily be transported. Then the furs were shipped to England, where they were sold to a European market created by fashion. But fashions changed, and even the felted beaver hat was replaced by the silk hat in England and elsewhere in Europe. The demand for beaver skins and other pelts declined. The Hudson's Bay Company continued their fur trading activities, but also turned their attention to other money-making opportunities, such as farming.