Its been a little while since I've posted.  Lots of stuff going on such as work, prepping for grad school, my best friend's wedding... 

I've been mulling over a couple of topics to write about.  It has been a difficult coin toss as there are so many things which deserve attention.  Leggings (they need to have flaps!), paint, tools, guns, mocs, fingerweaving, & etc.  I ended up landing on fingerweaving because it is something almost every Native interpreter uses, but most do not understand. 

Like most everything in life, there were (are) trends in fashion, which means changes to styles.  There are some pretty substantial and important variations in weaving patterns seen in the 18th century.  Sadly, a heck of a lot of Native interpreters get it wrong.  The easiest patterns to weave, such as the chevron, diagonal stripe, lightning, and arrow patterns are the least appropriate for the majority of the 18th century. 

It is important to look at the original pieces in collections and period artwork to determine what styles are best for what area and era.  For the vast majority of the 18th century, the oblique style of weaving dominated.  The oblique pattern is typically single colored, or a single central color with borders of a different color.  Bead patterns were woven in, directly on the yarns. There are no pieces from the 18th century yet known with the beads sewn in after the weaving is completed. 

What does the oblique weave look like? 
The above is a detail of a garter collected in the Southeast in the 1760's.  It currently resides in Aberdeen, Scotland.  It is woven of fine, red wool yarn, with the small (probably about size 10/0 or 12/0) beads woven in a rectilinear pattern.  The angle of the beads makes it very clear to see that they are woven in and not sewn in.  There is also a dark border running the length of both edges of the garter. 
 
 A powderhorn and strap set from the 1759-61 Cherokee War survives in a European collection as well.  Below is a reproduction of the strap, done by Nathan Kobuck for Ft. Dobbs, NC.  Someday, if I obtain permission to share pictures of the original, I'll post them. 
The two pieces are surprisingly quite similar, which we could (and do) use as a basis to argue that the sash could very likely be Southeastern and mid-18th century.  Combined with a other pieces in different mediums and images, these present a pretty solid argument for what makes for Southeastern designs in weaving. 

But there are styles commonly used by reenactors which are not found in the mid-18th century. 
While nicely done and pretty, the above pieces simply can not be documented to the 18th century SE.  So why use them?  I would argue that these styles are completely incorrect for historical interpretation of 18th century SE cultures.  That is not to say that they might not be appropriate for other regions or time periods.  For instance, there is a chevron pattern sash/strap with a very solid 1770's collection history from the western Great Lakes.  But the western GL are a LONG way from the SE.  Even with a limited artifact database, it is a hard argument to make.  It is safest to stay away from these patterns.

Now, the diamond pattern is of limited use to folks who typically interpret mid-18th century SE Native culture. 
This watercolor images was created in 1784 by the artist Sarah Stone for a museum catalogue.  Stone painted numerous Native-made objects from North America in incredible detail.  As this pieces was painted in 1784, it was clearly manufactured prior to that date.  But just how early, we do not know, and likely never will.  Can we say this is 100% SE? Nope.  However, the diamond pattern became quite common later in the 1790's and into the 19th century, as shown in portraits and a number of surviving examples.  It is safe to say this pattern was gaining popularity at the time of the American Revolution.  It is possible that it was around earlier, but this can not be substantiated.

An important element to notice in the above water color is the solid colored edge.  There are surviving pieces with this exact same feature.  Commonly, the border is woven separately and then sewn onto the central panel.  Anyone considering a diamond woven piece needs to strongly consider this element. 

So all of this writing is to create a basic outline of fingerweaving styles used during the 18th century SE.  For folks interpreting the French and Indian War period, fingerweaving should be limited to oblique patterns with beads woven into the design.  A wide range of colors were available to the weavers via trade, such as green, yellow, brown, blue, red, and black.  Like the majority of surviving pieces, the yarn should be thin/tightly spun and the beads should be small.

Interpreting the Revolutionary War period in the SE allows for a little more variety.  Oblique woven items certainly still dominated.  However, it is clear that the diamond pattern began to gain in popularity.  The designs should be kept relatively simple, like the Sarah Stone image shown above.  Other designs should be avoided at all costs.

Utilizing these guidelines are a great way to demonstrate changes in fashion, just like changing from predominantly white shirts in the early part of the century to mostly check shirts by the mid-1750's.  But folks should be careful not to cross over time periods and muddy the waters.  There is already a lot of bad information out there.  It is our responsibility to interpret these cultures as accurately as possible.  Wearing a diamond woven sash for F&I interpretation would be just like wearing a World War II style helmet to a World War I event.  Its wrong.

And a postscript about "European" style sashes and garters:
These things simply do not show up on trade lists.  "Trekker sashes" and the like are just wrong, no matter how you want to cut it.  I know its harsh, but its the truth.  There's just no way to sugar coat it.  If you absolutely have to wear a sash, get an oblique fingerwoven one.  Better yet, get a leather belt with a brass buckle; they do show up on SE trade lists.  These types of sashes do not and are completely incorrect for Native interpretation.

A final, parting thought... Looking at the length of most original "sashes", I am forced to wonder how many of them were ever actually worn as sashes.  I believe that sashes were actually a rarity, especially on a daily basis, for the majority of the 18th century.  More than likely, I believe that most sashes were probably straps for powderhorns or bags and that sashes are over represented in most cases by historical interpreters.   

 
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So, part of the joy of writing a blog is getting hate mail.  It's cool - it actually entertains me a bit.  The haters seem to think that because you write a blog or share information, that you are on some kind of ego trip. 

Well, I tend to think that it is arrogant to research and then hoard information.  That is the ultimate in building yourself a pyramid upon which to sit and watch all the oi polloi running about like so many ants.  I like pyramids, they are cool and historical.  I don't like arrogant assholes.

There are many in this hobby who collect information, build new, improved kit, and never share it with others.  Worse still, they turn around and sell their old crap to their "friends."  Let us be honest, are you really helping anyone besides your self?  Southeastern Native reenacting is full of this.  These same people are the ones who try to take ownership of other people's hard work and pass it off as their own.  That's about the lowest of the low.  You can pretty easily spot this clown as he moves from group to group as bridges are burned.

On the other hand, folks like David Hobbs, Nathan Kobuck, and Wynne Eden, very openly share their findings and always have when asked.  They are the ones who want to see everyone improve.  This is what I aspire to be.  

So, no, this blog isn't about my ego trip.  Plain and simple, I would like to see everyone around me have a better kit than me. When you surround yourself with people who are always two steps behind you, your stuff might look awesome, but YOU look like the jackass you are.  Share information.  Push people to improve.
 

Now, with that in mind, these are things which should NOT be part of your 18th century SE Native kit (or NE for that matter):  

 
So I had sworn to myself that I would avoid any type of political discussion on here.  There has been a recent flury of discussion which has caused me to break my promise.  

Native reenactors walk a very fine line.  This line is the one which separates historical interpretation from cultural appropriation.

We have become numb to the fact that the things we do affect other people.  When it comes to living history, we are affecting a group of people of many cultures who were experiencing (and in some instances still do) an all out assault on their cultures for the past 400 years.  It is more than understandable that Native Americans would be suspicious of a bunch of crazy white people who dress up as 18th century Indians on the weekend.  It can certainly come across as cultural appropriation, espcially when those crazy white people refer to themselves as Cherokee, Mohawk, Lenape, &ct instead of as interpreting Cherokee, Mohawk, Lenape, &ct.

What is it that crosses the fine line?  Well, building a sweat lodge at a reenactment for one.  This is the interpretation of religion.  That should raise all kinds of red flags.  "But we can interpret a church survice on Sunday." Yeah, but that is part of YOUR CULTURE!  The sweat lodge and all things surrounding it, have never been part of European culture.  Sweating was not something done for an audience, and there was more to it than just hanging out in a sweat lodge. 

Take a minute and think about how your actions will affect another person or group.  Recognize that to many tourists, their encounter with a Native reenactor might be their only encounter with "an Indian" no matter what your actual blood quantum.  It is imperative we recognize our place and responsibility.  

In the end, please do not cross the barrier.  The actions of one person can have ripples which will affect someone hundreds of miles away, years down the road.   After 400 years of attempted cultural genocide, American Indians are still here.  Cultural appropriation is just as vial as cultural genocide. 

 
I was going to write about silk ribbons and colors, but got distracted by quillwork.  It has become tradition amoung Southern peoples to incorporate quilled items into their regalia.  This practice is more recent than the 18th century, however.  Sadly, interpreters have been lead astray by those who are less than scholarly and balanced in their approach to studying the 18th century Southeast.  It is important to incorporate oral tradition with the study of documents and artifacts.  But we have to also recognize that no piece of the puzzle really outweighs another piece.  Is there some fact to the notion that the Cherokee used porcupine quills in the 18th century?  Yes.  Were they using them for knife sheaths, bags, leg ties, and straps?  No.  
 
 Where did this idea of the widespread use of quillwork in the Southeast come from?  Some of it came from blurring "tradition" with "historical practice".  That something is traditional does not mean it is an ancient, or even old practice.  To be traditional, something only has to be passed from one to another.  Before I get too side tracked..

 Unfortunately, a lot more of the problem with quillwork came from misunderstanding what constitutes documentation.  I have actually been shown the following images as proof that Cherokee used quilled bags and knives:
 Now, Robert Griffing is a really talented artist.  The problem is, he is a modern artist who paints reenactors.  The only thing you can really document with these images is what reenactors wear.  That is not history. 

 So what did the Cherokee really decorate with quills in the 18th century?  The answer can be found in the writings of more than one trusted 18th century source who weas actually on hand to see for themselves. Henry Timberlake is an excellent example:

 describing the calumet, or peace pipe:
.."The stem is about three feet long, finely adourned with porcupine-quills, dyed feathers, deers hair, and such like gaudy trifles."

 describing the clothing:
..."mockafons, which are shoes of a make particular to the Americans, ornamented with porcupine-quills..." 

 While he describes all of their clothing in great detail, these are the only two items described as decorated with quillwork.  Similar descriptions can be found in the writings of Adair, Busso, and others.  The one other item these other authors relate as being decorated with quills is a diadem, or crown.  Diadems, like the calumet, were for special occaisions, not everyday wear.  So we can infer, that because porcupines, whose habitat only extended into NW West VA, were not a source of artistic materials for everyday things.   If quillwork was so widespread among the Cherokee and the rest of the Southeast, why does is show up so infrequently in the historic record?  The answer is obvious to me: because the quillwork wasnt there in the quantities many wish it was.

There is another item which quite frequently appears in hair decorations of both Northern and Southern interpreters of 18th century Native culture is out of place... porcupine guardhair in roaches.  There are a number of red deer hair roaches which survive from the 18th century.  Some are round, some are U shaped.  None of them feature porcupine hair.  None at all.  In fact, porcupine guard hair on roaches doesnt begin to show up until the 19th century!  Why is it being worn by 18th century interpreters?  Take a look at the pictures I posted above.  It was painted (and continues to be painted) by modern artists.  Wearing porcupine guard hair in your roach is incorrect for 18th century interpretation!  For the love of the porcupine and history, please stop!

 I am sure that someone along the way will be offended by this.  That is not my intention.  The Cherokee, along with the rest of the peoples of the Southeast had other outlets for their artistic expression.  Ever seen the cane basket work the Cherokee were famous for, even in the 18th century?  How about their pipes? 
Cherokee River Cane Basket
collected in 1753, British Museum.
Cherokee Pipes, circa 1759
Ft Loudoun Museum/Visitor's Center
 
 Anyone who has talked Southeastern material culture with me in the past several years would have noticed a trend in my rants: simple is better.  Blue Strouds, red wool twill tape, check shirts,... very simple stuff.  Admittedly, this has been somewhat reactionary.  Reactionary to what?  Well, there's a lot of honest to God bad stuff out there.  So many makers are providing complete B.S. items like "Southern style quilled neck knive sheaths", "Southeastern style quilled bags", "Southern style painted bags", on and on and on.  I mean, the list could very litterally go on and on.  
 
 The problem is, all of these are pure fantasy.  They are based on 100% imagination.  We dont have a single reference to quilled knife sheaths or bags in the SE.  There are no references to painted bags, knife sheaths or leggings either.  So why does everyone want a quilled neck knife if they are doing a Catawba (or Cherokee, or Seminole...) impression?  Lack of imagination?  It "looks" Indian?  It was in X painting by R____t G______g?  No matter what the reasoning, it is a distortion of history... or in other words... a lie.  

 Ok, off of the soapbox of redundancy, sorta.  So, if you can't use quillwork, what the heck can you use to look "Indian" when doing a Southeastern portrayal?  There is one item rarely seen on SE reenactors, commonly seen on NE reenactors; but the historic SE peoples were likely dripping in it.  Give up yet?  

That's right.  SILVER 

 But before we discuss the fancy stuff, I need to clarify something. For so long, I've discussed "dressing down" and now I'm talking about dressing up?  "Make up your mind, Melius!"  I know, I know... just hear me out.  

Carefully read the following quotes, paying close attention to the underlined and bolded phrases:

James Adair:
 
 "... decorated with silver ear-bobs, or pendants to their ears, several rounds of white beads about their necks, rings upon their fingers, large wire or broad plates of silver on their wrists,..."

"The Indian nations are agreed in the custom of thus adourning themselves with beads of various sizes and colours; sometimes wrought in garters, sashes, necklaces, and in strings round their wrists; and so from the crown of their heads..."

"...they wear ear-rings and finger-rings in abundance..."

"...it is a common trading rule with us, to judge of the value of an Indian's effects, by the weight of his fingers, wrists, ears, crown of his head, boots, and maccaseenes - by the quantity of red paint daubed on his face, and by the shirt about the collar, shoulders, and back, should he have one."

"I did myself the honour to fit them out with silver arm-plates, gorgets, wrist-plates, ear-bobs &c. &c. which they kindly recieved, and protested they wouldn't ever part with them, for the sake of the giver..."

"For it being their custom to carry their ornaments, and looking glasses over their shoulders, on such public occaisions, my companions were fully trimmed out, and did not strip themselves, as they expected no such disaster [they were ambushed]..."

and from Henry Timberlake:

"They that can afford it wear a collar of wampum, which are beads cut out of clamshells, a silver breast-plate, and bracelets on their arms and wrists of the same metal, a bit of cloth over their private parts, a shirt of English make, a sort of cloth-boots, and mockasons,... but when they go to war they leave their trinkets behind, and the mere necessaries serve them."
 
 I should be clear why I advocate simplicity of dress!  Most events are centered on some historic or not-so-historic battle.  In the SE, we are used to seeing Indian reenactors on the field heavily ornamented- wearing tons of silver, super nice garters and sashes, silk covered leggings and breechcloths...  This is NOT how Southern Indians went to war!  Adair, Timberlake, and others make it very clear that all the fine stuff was packed away for battle - they carried only what they needed.  A gun, shot pouch, knife, club/spear/ax, paint, mirror, breechcloth, leggings, mocs and a blanket.  That's it.  

So, yes, for battles, plain and simple is the only authentic way to go.  After the battle, if the portrayal for the entire weekend is not that of a war-party on the move, put the good stuff back on.  Change out the plain blue wool leggings for blue wool adourned with silk ribbon.  Put on the silver armbands, beads and gorgets.  Put the big, fancy feathers and hair ornaments on your scalplock.  Off of the battlefield is the time for all of that.  

Up next, good vs bad ornaments... or not all silver was created equally...  

Yes, its next already.  I decided to make this into a really long blog post.  If you get distracted by the squirrel in the tree, come back later.  I understand...

 Above, we examined the quotes proving that Indians in the SE dressed up ... and dressed up real nicely.  Some might still doubt it.  So let us take a look at another aspect of the trade network: the number of deerskins exported from Charleston, SC compared to the goods available.  

 Sites like Wikipedia echo what can be found in numerous secondary sources regarding the annual quantities of deerskins shipped out of Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA.  In the 1750's, both cities were averaging over 100,000 deerhides per year.  That is a heck of a lot.  But where is the hard evidence?  Well, here are the shipments of deerskins sent to England by Austin, Laurens, & Appleby (Henry Laurens joint trade corporation) in 1759 alone - the year the Cherokee War began:

3rd Aug
2 hogs heads

5th Oct
10 hogs heads

26th Oct
12 hogs heads

Each hogs head averaged 350 hides, or about 625lbs.  That accounts for approximately 8400 deerskins at 15000 lbs; from just one company

Now, at that time, a common trade gun (most expensive item a trader offered) officially cost 16 lbs in deerskins (roughly 8 hides) and a pair of ear-bobs cost 2 lbs.  I could keep going with the crazy math, estimating hides per Indian and all that, but frankly I am not that good at math. Just look at the amounts and understand that the vast majority of those hides were coming from INDIANS. 

 Take a look at the number of armbands, wristbands, and gorgets purchased in Charleston, SC over the course of 7 days by E. Atkins:
Sept 16 - 23, 1758
Silver arm bands:  43 pair
Silver wrist bands:  27 pair
Silver gorgets:  39
Gilt (gold plated) gorgets: 13

I honestly can not begin to quantify the silver broaches, rings, and ear-bobs.  In the end, the point is, silver was very plentiful on the typical SE Native who was not on the battlefield.  The vast quantities of deer hides brought in by the Indian hunters proves that these men were wealthy and they were shopping.  Silver, beads, silk ribbon, blue wool.... they were fancy when they were not on the battlefield. 

  What I would like to do next is show examples of a couple archaeological pieces and compare them to what is available today.

Lets look at this picture from the TVA archaeology projects:
In the three images immediately above, the middle image is the original.  Notice how the ball is not free-floating on the wire.  The wire actually passes through a hole in the bottom of the ball to form a loop, which the cone is suspended from.  When worn, the wire passes through the hole in the ear and is slipped back into a hole on the back side of the ball.  The pair on the left are not constructed correctly.  The ball is suspended from the wire by a loop. The wire is closed with a fastening technique not seen on any original earbobs.  The cones are hollow; another feature not seen on original examples.  From 20 feet away, these might look sorta... nah, never mind, they don't.  Pieces like this, and others are also often made of German silver; a material which was not used in the 18th century for trade silver.  (Remember the story about the Cherokee killing a few traders to get a better price?  You really think they would not have noticed the difference between real silver and fake silver???)

The sets on the right are all constructed in the correct fashion (there are archaeological examples of flat bottomed cones from the SE!!!).  They are made just like the piece in the center picture.  At this time, there is only one manufacturer offering correctly made, real silver earings - At the Eastern Door (click on the pic!).  Please, if you are going to buy silver, don't waste your money on crap!  And there is a lot of crap out there. 
Drawing of a the hundreds (thousands?) of surviving 18th century earbobs.  This is how reproductions should be made. Thanks to Fred Lucas for reminding me of this image drawn years ago by Alan Gutchess.

Now let's talk briefly about nose rings!

Ever seen someone wearing one of those semi-flattened gorget style nose rings?
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Well, I am sorry to say, this is another one of those things that just didnt exist in the 18th century.  Sure, they show up in the 1800's, but for what ever reason, we have absolutely no evidence of their existance in the earlier period.  Best bet is to leave it at home and go without until a quality reproduction can be found or, just don't wear one at all! 

Now, if you absolutely must have a nose ring - they were made in the same exact manner at the above shown ear-bobs.  In fact, the 18th century nose rings were nothing more than earings worn in the shnozz.

Now that we have gone from the presence of vast quantities of silver in the SE to what makes quality reproductions ear rings... toss the cheap brass armbands, German silver broaches, 19th century nose gorgets and save your pennies for the good stuff.  18th century Indians were tough customers... we should be too.  As with everything else, it is our duty to do our best at interpreting the past, especially so if you choose to interpret a culture which is not your own. 

(Maybe I'll chat about silk ribbon, bed lace, gartering and other fun textile ornaments in the next episode.....)

 
Just a couple quick thoughts to follow up on the last post and to tag along with the "shirt" section on the general clothing article on the main site...

 I believe I successfully argue that check shirts are a defining article of Southeastern fashion, which developed in the mid-1750's.  In short, check linen shirts grew in popularity.  While seen only on occaision in 1754, by 1758 they were the most common shirt material seen in the SE.  White linen shirts were the most common in 1754 and quickly took the back seat by '58. 

 We have plenty of references to shirts being adourned with silver buckles (ring broaches) and being worn until they are nearly rotting off of the owner's body.  Adair tells us Indian men wore their shirts until they were filthy.  Another author states the shirts were so filthy that they were nearly black.  This is likely the story for both white linen and checked linen shirts... they got filthy. 

But there is a shirt decorating technique which does not appear to have been practiced in the Southeast, and was apparently a Northeastern style: painting the shoulders red.  There are a number of references to the shoulders of white shirts being painted with vermillion.  We could speculate all day long about why it was done.  But it certainly was done in the Northeast

Painting the shoulders of a trade shirt red seems to not have been in fashion in the SE.  To my knowledge, there is not a single reference to Indian shirts with red painted shoulders in the South.  This is very likely just another way that Northeastern and Southeastern peoples could tell each other apart.  I would highly suggest that until such time as we can produce evidence for the practice, that interpreters of Southeastern cultures avoid the application of red pigment to the shoulders of their shirts... let them get dirty naturally. It won't take too long!

Up next will either be a full blown post about the lack of quilled items in the Southeastern or a rant against bad metallic ornaments like gorget style nose rings, brass armbands, ear wheels, elaborate pattern broaches... BS trade guns with 42" barrels... or all the above.  ;)
 
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A quick glance at any trade list from the middle of the 18th century leaves one with the realization that textiles dominated most of the trade.  It is easy to connect the puzzle pieces for the vast quantities of woolen items.  Wools were used for breechcloths for men, wrap skirts for women, leggings and matchcoats for both... etc.  But what about all the other types of cloth? Especially in the SE, we see huge quanitites of check linens, plain linens, cottons, oznaburgs, and (later in the century) printed linens and cottons.  What were all of these used for?

 Thankfully, Edith Mayes was fascinated enough with Amherst to have compiled his papers in a book: Amherst Papers, 1756-1763, The Southern Sector: Dispatches from South Carolina, Virginia and His Majesty's Superintendent of Indian Affairs.  Published by Heritage Books in 1999, this work is a great resource for anyone interested in the material and political culture of the SE.  Contained within this work is a large section describing what goods were to be presented to each Indian warriror before, during and after joining the British forces in Pennsylvania.  It gets better; the passages describe what the different textiles are typically used for!  


    At first fitting them out to War
Guns: One to each Man that wants it, or, to him that does not; 
Either 6 Yards of Callicoe for a Jacket & Petticoat
  or
8 yards of ¾ Garlix for two Shifts for his Wife;
Which will interest the Women in the expedition & will prevent the buying & Selling spare guns for a trifle; being commonly Spent in Rum....

...Blankets; one to each Man that wants it;
   Or 4 Yards striped flannel for a Squaw’s Petticoat to him that does not...

 In addition to made shirts, yards of materials (and thread further in the list) were commonly being provided for the Indians to use in the construction of garments by their own hand.  Other sources tell us that Indians in the North and South were commonly making their own shirts, of varying qualities. 

 So what did these Indian-made shirts look like?  Well, it is my belief that the following images tell us:

A Stockbridge circa 1776
A Shawnee circa 1790
 Without looking too closely at details, because we eventually all see what we want to see, there are some common traits seen in all of these images.  Both shirts have tight sleeves, unfininshed necks and are similar to both European men's shirts and women's shifts.  Similar, but not the same.  There really is no 18th century European garment with construction details to match these two garments. 
 
 So that brings me to this guy depicted on Oconostota's 1761 French Commission (US National Archives):
  Everyone has their theory about WHO this fellow is... My arguement is that he is just a SouthEastern Native, not a "portrait" of a particular Cherokee headman... but that is neither here nor there in this discussion.  I am more interested in what he is wearing.  Or, comparing what he is wearing to the two previous images.

 Through examining hi-resolution images of the Cherokee Commission piece, details do present themselves, which are not appearant in the grainy reproductions (like above) that most of us are familiar with.  The shirt appears to have an unfinished neck like like the Stockbridge and Shawnee fellows above.  The neck line is very similar to the Stockbridge in particular.  The sleeves are lacking gathers or pleates and the ends are also unfinished.  Mind you, not "fringed" , but just raw.  It is also particularly short, like the Shirt worn by the Shawnee warrior.  

 While many contend that this is the rare example of an Indian warrior wearing a women's shift, I believe it is actually another visual depiction of an Indian-made shirt.  A couple of years ago, I made an interpretive piece based on this out of white linen.  It is pretty filthy now, but I believe it accurately mimics the details above and proves my theory correct.  Of course we will never know for certain, and some will maintain it is a women's garment... That's the beauty (frustration?) of interpreting artifacts and documents.   
 
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We all have heard the story about how the Dutch bought Manhattan for $24 worth of beads.  We are often lead to believe that Europeans took advantage of the supposed Indian ignorance of quality in trade goods and general concepts of value.  While it is silly, it is also insulting. 

 The real truth is that Indians were notoriously shrewd business people.  They could not, and were not fooled into accepting worthless trinkets.  The historic record is full of episodes illustrating just how picky Indians were.  At Ft. Loudoun in present day Tennessee, Paul Demere had recieved a shipment of trade coats which were so bad that the Cherokee refused them, even as gifts.  Demere admitted that the clothing was so poorly made that he couldnt even distribute them to his soldiers.  There are numerous similar examples of Indians leaving a trade house because the goods offered were of poor quality.  Traders quickly, and sometimes painfully, learned that they could not pull the wool over their customer's eyes.

 Taking this idea a step further, is an episode found in the annonymous journal of a trader (Colonial Records of South Carolina, Series 2: Documents relating to Indian Affairs, P65-66.):

…. It may not be improper to hint at the Reason of this insolent proceeding by the creeks, in order thereto it must be noticed, that when a Peace was proposed between them and the Cherrockees, the Creeks had all along the Cherrockee Trade in View, and was a strong Notice with them as well as in
Compliance with the Governor’s Request to a Peace with the Cherokees and though the Creeks met with several Insults during the Preliminaries, they choose rather put up with that than break off a Megotiation that would obstruct the Hopes they had of obtaining a Cherrockee Trade.  Agreeable to this scheme the Wolf Warrior of the Okehoys took upon him to conduct that affair who also brought in the Gun Merchant and other Head Men into the Scheme. The Gun, Wolf Warrior, Helabbee Captain and other head men meeting the Cherrockees in the Hunting Grund by Appointment (besides several more that went into Tereico and Chote to trade) conferred together concerning the Trade, they enquired of the Cherrockees by what Means they got such a low and easy Trade.  They were told that they did not obtain that low Trade as a Favour from the Governor, but that the stout hearted Head Warriors obtained it by killing some of the Traders, beating almost to Death and
abusing others, order them to be gone, tumble their Goods out of their Houses, take some of their Goods by Force, and in short use them with all Manner of bad Usage, that was the Method the Cherrockee Warriours fell upon to get Low Trade, and found it always effectual, that it might be observed for a constant Maxim to us the White People ill, will make them good, but to use them with Civility was just putting them in the Way to impose upon the Indians, that they the Cherrockees kill several English Men at Times, never made any Satisfaction but for one.  A few Years ago they killed two Englishmen in the Chekesaw Path at the great hill on the other side the Coosaw River and the Leader of that Gang wore one of the white Men’s Hatts publickly at the Dance at Terrico to this day and boasts of the Action.  The great Warriour of Terrico or Chote told them that when he goes to see the Governor he never talks soft and easy but stoutly, this is the Method by which we (the Cherrockee) got the Trade, and if you (the Creeks) would resolutely follow the same Rule, you would get the same Trade for you need never expect it by Fairness.
 

 Would a people undertaking an action like this be fooled into accepting cheap goods?  Heck no!  They were shrewd men.  This course of action was well earned by the traders.  There were plenty of complaints lodged by Indians in the North and South against attempted swindling by alcohol and abuse on the part of the traders.  Its nice to read episodes like this to balance the view.

 

 
I can break a computer faster than a tech can fix one.  Ok, maybe not that bad... but Im still learning how to use Weebly.  Now that I see there is a blog feature on here, I will likely begin using this for posting most of my information, unless it is a formal paper. 

 Stay tuned as I am constantly tweaking old posts and coming up with new ideas to rant about such as my next two topics:

The difference between good silver and bad silver in the context of SE living history

And

Options to quillwork for Southeastern interpretation; or Quit wearing porcupine quillwork or show me the evidence!

:)

-Jason

    J Melius

    If you found yourself here, you are more than likely aware of my passion for researching Southeastern American Indian material culture.  Its a sickness I've been wrapped up in since the early 1990's.  While some of my thoughts might come across as somewhat abrassive; they are not meant to offend.  No, I dont call myself and expert, only a student of history and culture.  Hopefully we all seek to further our education and this is intended as an extention of my unending desire to learn and share.

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