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Control of the Fur Trade

The federal Trade and Intercourse Act required that all traders entering Indian lands obtain a license from a federal Indian agent. As Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Louisiana Territory, William Clark issued this license in 1836 to the firm of Pratte, Chouteau and Company, a fur trade enterprise that had recently expanded through the purchase of the Western Department of John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company.

The license granted the company the right to trade at posts along the length of the Missouri and Platte rivers, “Lewis’s River” (the Snake), and the Arkansas River in modern-day Oklahoma. Note the list of employees, which includes near the end, “Lucien and Thomas Snake Indian.”

William Clark. Superintendent of Indian Affairs, to All Who It May Concern: Whereas Pratte, Choteau & Co. Having Applied for a License to Trade for One Year, 1836.

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