Connect: Through the Eyes of a Fur Trader


The fur trade industry was the most profitable business in Grand Rapids for over 150 years. Presented via first-person costumed interpretation, the Fur Trader program introduces students to the meeting between European fur traders and Native Americans in Michigan, focusing on the beginnings of the bartering system between Europeans and Native Americans and how the contact impacted both parties.  Demonstrations and hands-on activities with artifacts will help students explore how materials and tools differ between pre and post-contact time periods.

Student Objectives:

  • Describe examples of the exchange of ideas and material goods that occured between the French and Anishinabek during the Great Lakes fur trading period.
  • Understand the economics of bartering and the value of goods; they will be able to explain what qualified as a good trade between French fur traders and the Michigan Anishinabek.
  • Imagine what it was like to be a French voyageur transporting goods along Michigan rivers in the 17th and 18th century.¬†
Curriculum Connections
  • Michigan K-12 Social Studies Standards: H1 The World in Temporal Terms: Historical Habits of Mind, H2 Living and Working Together in Families and Communities, Now and Long Ago, H3 The History of Michigan and the Great Lakes Region, H4 The History of the United States, H5 The History of Peoples from Many Cultures Around the World, U2 Colonization and Settlement, G1 The World in Spatial Terms: Geographical Habits of Mind, G2 Places and Regions, G4 Human Systems, G5 Environment and Society, E1 The Market Economy, P1 Reading and Communication, P2 Inquiry Research and Analysis
  • ELA Common Core Standards: Speaking and Listening