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My dissertation is currently titled Blackfoot Country: The Making and Unmaking of the Northern Plains Fur Trade, 1782-1870. My research focuses mostly on the Blackfoot peoples of what is now Montana and Alberta during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. For nearly a century, the Blackfeet maintained a central position in the North American fur trade, and were a crucial trading partner for British, Canadian and American fur companies. At the same time, they rose to a position of unquestioned dominance among Indian peoples on the northwestern plains. My dissertation explores the ways in which the Blackfeet created and adapted relationships with non-Indian traders over several generations, all while maintaining a position of unparalleled autonomy and influence in the region. I am especially interested in the ways in which the Blackfeet incorporated non-Indians into indigenous trading structures while simultaneously enforcing strict conditions on the outsiders’ trading activities and geographical expansion.
This project has relied on various sets of primary documents. With the generous support of the Lamar Center, I have done research at the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Montana Historical Society in Helena, Montana, and the Glenbow Institute in Calgary, Alberta, among others. I am currently in my fifth year of study, and my dissertation advisors are John Mack Faragher and Ned Blackhawk.