The Pemmican Trade

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The Pemmican Trade

Peter Pond - fur trader - Pemmican Trade

Peter Pond – 1740 – 1807

Think, prairie energy bar! The Survival Food extraordinaire!

Pemmican was a staple, dependable food source for many Native American Tribes.
It was the essential source of protein for the Fur Trade and all North American explorers until the end of the 19th century.

American explorer, cartographer, merchant, fur trader and soldier, Peter Pond was also a founding member of the North West Company. Pond is also credited with introducing this vital food to the trade in 1779, having obtained it from the Chipewyans in the Athabasca region. This resulted in the so-called, Pemmican Trade. The word pemmican is derived from the Cree pimikanwasná, meaning “manufactured grease.” Called wasná by the Lakota and Dakota who also made a variant from toasted cornmeal, animal fat, fruit, and sugar, using no meat. Later, made in commercial quantities by the Métis people of the Red River Colony.
A large leather bag of bison pemmican (90 lb, 41 kg) was called a taureau (French for “bull”). When mixed with fat from the udder, it was called taureaux fins, mixed with bone marrow, as taureaux grand, and with berries added, taureaux à grains. It usually took the meat of one bison to fill a taureau (on average, one pound of pemmican required five pounds of meat). The meat was dried by sun or slow fire, pounded into coarse powder and mixed with an equal amount of melted fat (usually suet rendered into tallow) by hand in smaller leather bags.
Although Bison was the tradition meat, moose, caribou, deer, bear, beef, duck, etc. can be used. The berries, (also dried and pounded to powder) can be currants, saskatoon berries, cranberries, cherries, chokeberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc. At room temperature, pemmican can often last up to five years; there are stories of cool cellars keeping the product usable for over a decade.
The pemmican trade was a major factor in the emergence of the new and distinct society. The Métis (Fr. – bois brines), a mixed heritage trading people would travel to the southwest from Red River, slaughter bison and return to their home settlements in carry carts. There the meat was dried and made into pemmican. Then, it was carried north to their trading settlements near trading posts of the North West Company. The pemmican trade was as important a source of trade goods as was the beaver trade for the Indigenous peoples farther north. Packs of pemmican would be shipped north and stored at the major Canadian fur posts: Fort Alexander, Cumberland House, Île-à-la-Crosse, Fort Garry, Norway House, and Edmonton House.

The Pemmican War

Scottish born Miles MacDonell (1767 – 1828) was the first governor of Manitoba, which included the Red River Colony. He ignited the Pemmican War with the Red River Métis * when he passed a proclamation which forbade the export of any food supplies, including pemmican from the Red River colony (January 1814). It became known as the Pemmican proclamation. The Métis viewed it as an economic assault with religious and racial overtones. Historical documents (1816) imply that it likely was just that.
It was not so much a war, but a series of skirmishes that flared for almost seven years, until the merger of the two major companies that traded fur in Europe: the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and the North West Company (NWC) (1821).
Pemmican is still made today both by indigenous people and commercially.

see also:
References – DictionaryPemmican
* The Originals Index – Native American Tribes –  Métis
The Originals Index – Native American Tribes – Native American Pre- HistoryPlano Cultures

for further references related to The Pemmican Trade on Old West Daily Reader
The Originals Index – ExpeditionsThe Fur Trade

Pemmican - Pemmican Trade


barbed wire divider2 - Work FileEnd – The Pemmican Trade

{001} C 02/24; E 02/24; F 03/23; P 03/23

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