This study examines the Russian-era fur trade of the middle course of the Yukon River, that section of the river which extends from Fort Yukon down to Nulato, Alaska. For a period of just over twenty years, 1847 to 1868, the Russian-American and Hudson's Bay companies maintained rival establishments at opposite ends of this stretch of river and vied for the trade of the Native populations living in the region between. After reviewing the events leading up to the establishment of the first European posts in the region, the study focuses on the dynamics of the competition between the rival posts and the changing nature of Native, Russian, and British participation in the middle Yukon trade. Most historical summaries of the early (pre-1867) fur trade of the Middle Yukon rely upon a small number of published sources, resulting in a truncated and rather inaccurate version of the region's fur trade history. This study seeks to overcome that problem through utilization of two major archival collections, the records of the Russian-American and Hudson's Bay companies. Together, these sources make possible an account that is more even in temporal coverage and more balanced in its treatment of Russian, British, and Native trade activities. One of the striking features of the early Yukon drainage fur trade is the pivotal role of the Native traders in determining its spatial patterning. Though regional patterns were characterized by a certain overall stability in the period 1830 through 1868, they also underwent marked change. This study examines those changes with regard to the middle Yukon drainage and discusses the influence of material and social factors upon them.
Thesis (Ph.D.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1996
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