Breaking a Monopoly
Fur trading, monopolized by the British Hudson’s Bay Company, was the principal business in the Dakota and Minnesota territories. The Métis, people of mixed European and Native American descent, broke the Company’s monopoly by transporting their furs south to St. Paul, where they received better prices from American merchants.
Métis women, who were expert negotiators, exchanged their furs with St. Paul merchants for more and better trade goods than they had received from the Hudson’s Bay Company. Note the rare sample book, which lists the Eastern manufacturer’s prices of cottons and the selling prices to the Indians.