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From Commerce to Treaties

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Chapter Summary

Treaty traditions in America flowed, in large measure, from proscriptions of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The contradictions inherent in ideas about trade, barter and commerce among Indian nations were best captured in the great exchange of the nineteenth century, the Indian "curio" trade. In the widening industrial economies of Europe and North America, tourists escaping their wage and salary-earning economies poured into "Indian territory" as gawking, intrusive and exploitative consumers. The Indian's capacity to both buy goods and sell reserve product was, meanwhile, limited if not undermined in settler societies. On-going debilitating disadvantages, then, marked the Indian trade in the nineteenth century. Remarkably, Indians had been transformed from being traders, connected to wider markets with lines of credit and produce, into being a category of ward.

Keywords: America; European commerce; Indian territory; Treaty tradition



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