Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Industrial Archaeology (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

LouAnn Wurst

Committee Member 1

Valoree Gagnon

Committee Member 2

Timothy Cochrane


The American Fur Company established and operated commercial fishing stations in Lake Superior from 1834 until the company dissolved in 1842. The role that the company played in the fur trade created ecological and economic conditions that had detrimental impacts on the Anishinaabe’s ability to practice traditional ways of life and diminished the Lake Superior region of fur bearing mammals. These conditions were exasperated in their commercial fishing efforts which brought about a transition in relations between labor, capital, and the environment. This was a period of transition for both the AFC and the Anishinaabeg who by the 1800’s had resided in the Lake Superior region for centuries. While the AFC was able to exert control over Anishinaabeg labor and lifestyles through their involvement in the fur trade, their long standing government lobby efforts, and their monopolistic control over commerce on the American side of Lake Superior, the transition from the fur trade into the commercial fish trade also created conditions where the Anishinaabeg people were able to adapt their lifestyles to participate and in some ways benefiting from the growing industry. Because of their generational Indigenous knowledge and the resulting power over trade this imparted on them, the Anishinaabeg were able to resist AFC control while also participating in the euro-American cash economy in a way that preserved some aspects of their traditional lifestyles and autonomy. This thesis will employ archaeological data and primary source documents in arguing these themes and will present a narrative of mutual adaptation that characterizes the interactions between the AFC and the Anishinaabeg peoples in the early 19th century transition period between the fur trade and the commercial fish trade.