Mountain Men: Profitable Fur Trading in the 1800s

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The west in the early 1800’s was a hostile place for Mountain Men. Although mountain men faced the arrows and spears of Indians and the brutal climate of the mountains, they used their knowledge and strength to overcome their hardships and turn a profit trading fur.

Native American relations were strained at best when the mountain men first showed up in the west. This is exemplified beautifully in Jeremiah Johnson, when Jeremiah, even seen as a hero, shows up to the flathead camp and could easily get killed. He is forced to marry a Native American woman who makes his mountain men dreams very difficult to achieve. This shows how difficult it was for the two very different cultures to assimilate, they were unable to fully communicate their wants and needs to each other, and we see that just like in marriage, when two sides are unable to communicate they fight. Another example of strained American Indian and mountain men disputes can be found in the book, when they talk about Andrew Henry’s attempt at setting up near the three forks spring. The Blackfeet had already been established near there and were a very hostile people. The two sides fought, and eventually Henry’s men were driven away from the settlement. This very easily could have been sign enough for mountain men to pack up and leave, but the American Spirit persevered.

The battle that the mountain men had to face daily however was the harsh wild. Not every mountain man was as boss as Jedediah Smith, and simply out wrestle a bear. However, the mountain men won the battle of man versus wild and proved for once and for all that man is superior to nature. Take the movie for example. Jeremiah Smith needed a place to stay while he was out fur trapping. Nature though it had won that battle and that he wouldn’t survive winter. However, with a mute son and a wife who can’t speak English, he cut down nature and literally used it to live. Call me the next time a bear builds a house out of a bunch of us. The book...
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