American Indian Glass Bead Trade History
For thousands of years glass beads were traded in early civilizations. Ancient Native American Indians had worn beads for centuries made of antler, bone, copper, shell, stone and wood. The Vikings, Christopher Columbus' party, Spanish Explorers, Jesuit Priests and Lewis and Clark all brought glass beads for trade with the American Indians. Lewis and Clark brought glass beads to the Idaho Territory as tradebeads for the American Indians. They threw down blankets and sat cross-legged to trade with the Nez Perce producing bits of cloth and red glass beads.
The Nez Perce said that they preferred the blue bead over the red bead. The bead they referred to was called the sky-blue padre because of its light blue color. The Nez Perce said that the padre bead reminded them of a piece of the sky or sky-blue beads. Earlier the Nez Perce had traded the Sky-blue Padres from the Spanish. The same blue bead, made in China was later traded to the Amerinds by the Hudson Bay Fur Trade Company. An interesting antecdote is that with the success of the sky-blue padre, the Chinese began producing white padres at the end of the Fur Trade Era followed by yellow, red and green padres European beads were traded for furs to the American Indians during the American Fur Trade Era 1670-1870. A strand of small beads, eight feet long traded for a small horse. Thus the name, pony beads. Glass beads made in Amsterdam, Bohemia, China, Czechoslovakia, England, France, India, Italy and Spain were traded. Czechoslovakian glass beads were quite popular.
The Dutch West India Company set up a fur trading outpost in New York. It was there that Peter Stuyvesant traded $24.00 in beads to the Indians for the Island of Manhattan. This famous exchange has gone down in history. Hudson Bay Forts were built across America and Canada. Here in Idaho at both Fort Hall and Fort Boise the Hudson Bay Company ran the Fur Trade. Dutch Chevron Beads called American Flag Beads, Hudson Bay Russian Blues and Hudson Bay Whitehearts were traded across America (considered to be top of the line by the Indians and other traders). Hudson Bay Traders brought with them another very popular tradebead, the Hudson Bay Sky-blue Padre Bead from China.
The Venetian Glass four, six and seven layer Chevron Beads were prized in trade. The Father of all Tradebeads or in Latin the Paternoster Bead made in Murano, Italy was a large red, white and blue six or seven layer bead. The "Our Father Bead was probably the largest tradebead-made from six layered cane of drawn glass. Venetian Glass is the cadillac of tradebeads. The lampwound beads made in Venice were gorgeous like the 1600's Delft beads. Glass Beads from Murano and Venice, Italy were coveted Tradebeads.
Tradebeads from around the world came to be commonly called Chinese Skyblue Padres, Hudson Bay Russian Blues, Peking glass beads, Venetian Chevrons, French-cross Beads, Hudson Bay Whitehearts, Black and White Skunks, Red and White Skunks. Hudson Bay Greenhearts, called the Cornaline de Allepo Bead (made in Allepo, Italy) in 1700 were Czechoslovakian glass and Millefiores and were favorite tradebeads. Tiny 1800's Christmas Beads, Red Feather Beads, Crow Beads and Yellow Jackets Chevron Beads were coveted, too. The Mountain Men gave the beads nick-names like Ponies, Feathers, Yellow-Jackets, White-hearts, Green-hearts, Russian -Blues, Padres, Skunks, French-cross, Yellow-hearts, and Cranberries.
A fort was built on ground that is now Boise Idaho, named Fort Boise. In the early 1800's the Hudson Bay Fur Company took over both Fort Hall and Fort Boise in Idaho. The Army was stationed there and Indians camped nearby for trade and provisions. American Fur traders prized the European glass beads, as did the American Indian. When explorers and mountain men arrived with brightly colored glass beads, trade was eminent. The American Indians traded furs to the Dutch and their famous Hudson Bay Fur Trade Company and other fur trade companies. Hudson Bay Trading Posts sprang up in Alaska, Canada and all around northern America. Mountain Men, like Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith all played a role in the American Fur Trade. Besides being trading allies many Mountain Men took Indian wives, forming even stronger bonds. The American Indians loved the Sky-blue Padre Bead and treasured it as their favorite, calling it a piece of the sky.
Lewis and Clark strands included beads later named after Lewis and Clark. The glass bead chosen as the Lewis and Clark Bead is a lovely large black eliptical bead with a white ribbon spiraling along the center with red and blue hash marks. American Indians crafted glass beads into necklaces but used smaller seedbeads on all sorts of leather attire and garb. Glass beads traded to the Native- American Indians became a big part of their regalia and their lives. During the 200 year American Fur Trade Period millions of tradebeads were introduced to the Native American Indians. The Fur Trade Industry flourished. Beaver hats and raccoon fur coats were the rage in Europe and many kinds of animal furs were made into garments and gloves.The American Indian had begun a tradition that would never die. Glass beads from Europe-European tradebeads that would change their lifestyle were adopted by the redman. They prized and cherished the colored glass adornment that would come to be a distinguishing part of their lifeway, the glass bead.
About Us As Glass Trade Bead Dealers In The 21st Century
It all began in 1992, when I met a Modoc Indian on the Boise State University campus named Coyotè. She was instrumental in my selling trade beads. And soon a new chapter was added to my life. First I had to become familiar with beads. I consulted with experts, read books and handled the glass beads. Then I needed to distinguish between genuine and fake trade beads. Next my quest was to know the age of these glass beads. It was a learning experience to say the least.
Coyotè helped me pick a name, "Why not Fort Boise Bead Trader?"," she said! I agreed. Two hundred years ago there was a Fort Boise here. My business had begun as a hobby business and then grew by my doing shows, flea markets, powwows, rendezvous, and personal sales. Have contacted customers out of state and gained their business, being in operation now twelve years providing the people in this area with old glass beads and their history. I'm still friends with Coyotè and see her often. Have given talks to Gem, Archeology and Rendezvous clubs, etc. This website is a chance to reach more people like you.
Hudson Bay Beads and other authentic tradebeads are on hand for the rendevous enthusiast. Dance Beads that serve as Powwow beads, colorful ancient beads, the genuine beads traded to your ancestors are available at Fort Boise Beadtrader. These gorgeous beads are a must for Powwow dancing, participating and garb for ceremonies of the Indian lifeway. They say that my trade bead prices are less expensive than anyone in the Pacific Northwest. I play fair and aim to please my customers.