Essay on Women in Between

1842 Words Jul 10th, 2012 8 Pages
Course Code: HIST 200
Instructor: Dr. Jim Wood
Student # 1011080
Date: March 25, 2012

“Women in Between”: Indian Women in Fur Trade Society in Western Canada”, written by Sylvia Van Kirk assesses the lives of Indian women in the fur trade. The article expresses both the positive and negative aspects of being an Indian woman in the fur trade as well as their motives for marrying European fur traders. The article contributes to our understanding of the fur trade society by focusing on the motives and actions of Indian women in the fur trade which furthers our knowledge of Canadian history prior to confederation.

Sylvia Van Kirk used a vast selection of sources when writing the article on the Women in Between. The article
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In the case of voyageurs, mixed marriages sealed alliances between the voyageur's employer and his wife's aboriginal family, making for a key factor in the success of the North West Company.”

It was widely accepted in both Indian and white cultures for a trader to take an Indian wife. In fact, it was not uncommon for Indian women to be gifted to a trader as it was thought that it would strengthen their partnership. Many Indian tribes felt that if Indian women married European traders that alliance would bring security, wealth and access to supplies and other goods. Traders saw a benefit in taking an Indian wife as well “The main reasons for this phenomenon were the assured profits in the trade and the imbalance of the sexes, which was so great that until about 1710 only about one man in 7 could hope to find a wife - a necessity on a farm. In the interior, however, the traders quickly formed alliances with Indian women, whose economic skills facilitated adaptation by the French to wilderness life.”

The article makes the argument that Indian women had a preference for living with and marrying the white man. Indian women were afforded a lifestyle and livelihood that they would not likely have received by joining with Indian men. They were looked at more as equals by the white men. In Indian cultures it was accepted that a women came second to a man, even if she had the larger share of the work. Women came second even when it came to sharing the food;

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