Fall lecture series to explore ‘bartering for a continent’

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A trading scene is depicted in a 17th-century engraving by Theodor de Bry. (Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection)
A trading scene is depicted in a 17th-century engraving by Theodor de Bry. (Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection)

A special exhibition and lecture series at Jamestown Settlement will explore the history of trade between American Indians and English colonists, from the founding of Jamestown through the American Revolution.

According to a recent press release, the theme of the exhibition, which opened June 4 and continues through Dec. 10, will be reflected in a trio of lectures to be presented at 4 p.m. on three Thursdays in September in Jamestown Settlement’s Robins Foundation Theater.

Titled “Bartering for a Continent: How Anglo-Indian Trade Shaped America,” the exhibition, which was funded in part with a grant from James City County, features artifacts from private and public collections. The exhibit includes 17th- and 18th-century firearms used by fur traders, peace medals used in diplomatic relations and English trade beads, the release stated.

The accompanying lecture series will address the role of Virginia in the development of trade across the North American continent. The lectures will be given on the following dates:

Sept. 15: In “Before & After – The Effect on Indian Trade of the Arrival of the English,” Terry Bond, a historical interpreter at Jamestown Settlement, will discuss the evolution of trade among American Indian tribes, from local products in the early 17th century to mostly European goods by the end of the century, and the impact on intertribal relationships.

Sept. 22: In “Scarlet Cloth and Tinsel Lace: The Political and Cultural Significance of Chiefs’ Coats,” Mark Hutter, a journeyman tailor and supervisor in the Colonial Williamsburg Department of Historic Trades and Skills, will explore the use and meaning of “chiefs’ coats” during political negotiations between colonial governments and American Indians throughout the 18th century.

Sept. 29: Jamestown Settlement historical interpreters Carol Wiers and Vincent Petty will examine how the value of objects and labor was determined in Anglo-Indian exchanges in “What Do I Get for a Buck? – The Social and Economic Value of Trade in the 17th Century.”

Lectures are included with admission to Jamestown Settlement: $17.00 for adults and $8.00 for ages six through 12, and free to residents of James City and York counties and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, with proof of residency. Advance reservations are recommended by calling (757) 253-4572 or emailing rsvp@jyf.virginia.gov.