Hudson bay blankets dating

6854933580_2c8b688306_z

There were indeed Métis employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company (just as there were various First Nations employees), but arguably, the Métis were more heavily involved with the North West Company, who were in direct competition with the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Even noting this obscures a much more complex dynamic within which, contrary to tales of racialized company loyalty, the Métis played off various colonial powers (including the missions) against one another to secure better working conditions, rates of pay and opportunities.

All without suffering from the vertigo of cognitive dissonance.

At first these blankets were gifted or traded to Indigenous men considered important by colonial authorities, but eventually redistributive practices among Indigenous peoples saw them worn more widely.

A fashion tradition was born, and has continued in the Prairies to this day. Just because these blankets originated with settlers, it does not mean that they belong to settlers in the way they “belong” to Métis and First Nations here in the west.

These are all important considerations in climes that can reach temperatures of minus-40 degrees Celcius in far too many months of the year.

When worn-out buffalo hides, prized by settlers for their softness, were bought up in bulk from their bemused owners, and as new hides became increasingly scarce due to the colonial project of deliberate extermination, these wool blankets became sought-after and versatile trade goods.

If not loyalty to the Hudson’s Bay Company, and if not colonized sympathies toward a symbol of oppression, then why are these blankets so valued in the west?

You must have an account to comment. Please register or login here!