Troublesome Trade

Page 2 of 5

Part 2: Troublesome Trade


And trade goods . . . if we look back on our societies, you can point to the trade goods and you can start to see where that's where the tribes started to get into trouble, because the culture's going to change. People may not realize it, but it doesn't matter what culture you're in, any time a new item comes into that culture, and you use it—like, whether it be the pipe ax, or wire, awls, needles, whatever it may be—it replaces something that was in the traditional culture. As it replaces that something, then what was traditionally used, and the motivation for using it, will fade. The trap is, of course, it will become . . . As you forget how to make and utilize the old materials, you become part of being trapped by the new materials, because they're only available from the white society, or from the trade society. So therefore, once you get spoiled, you've got to go to that society to get those same goods.

Of course, I believe they were all made like everything else is madein this world. They're supposed to break down. That's why they make spare parts. So it keeps the tie-in. I think it's always like the gun. The gun could be a 23-pound club, or it could be a weapon of great violence, but the gun itself was nothing, because you needed the shot, the shell, the flint, the powder, and the spare parts. So, you needed to stay in contact, and on a trading basis, to keep all these things coming in to you, because otherwise you have a 23-pound club. Which is great, it puts you down and out, but it doesn't serve the purpose it was meant to.

So when I look at that point in time, I don't think it was really much to the Salish, other than to know that someone's here. Someone's coming. What may be amazing to people, I think, is the fact that the tribes here, in 1805, knew so little about people that had been on this continent for almost 200 years. And what had taken place in those 200 years was probably the complete destruction of many tribes. But the tribes here did not know about that relationship, so they saw it at something new, much like Charlo was to say later, they saw it as that light—light from the east—a good thing, something they could depend on. But it opened the door, because that first contact was good, that first contact was friendly.