Bartering for a Continent

Six-month Jamestown Settlement Special Exhibition Explores Importance of Anglo-Indian Trade in America

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., 2016 — “Bartering for a Continent: How Anglo-Indian Trade Shaped America,” June 4 through December 10 at Jamestown Settlement, explores the importance of trade between American Indians and English colonists, from the founding of Jamestown through the American Revolution, and the role of Virginia in the development of a new world of exchange in goods and commodities across the North American continent.

The six-month exhibition features artifacts from private and public collections, including a series of 17th- and 18th-century firearms typical of those used in the fur trade during 1650-1800, peace medals used in diplomatic relations, and English trade beads, tools and household items used to buy animal pelts.

Join in the Trading Adventure

Interactive experiences encourage participation in the trading adventure. Visitors can earn a trading pass by mastering the essentials of trade – load a canoe with trade goods, then climb in and imagine paddling up a river, learn words of the Powhatan language, compare types of traded goods and their values, and make an impression of a peace medal to take home. Afterward, visitors can test their bartering skills outdoors in the re-created Powhatan Indian village and English fort to see if they can successfully trade corn for glass beads.

Anglo-Indian Exchange at Jamestown Extends Across the Continent

The special exhibition examines English and Powhatan Indian trade at Jamestown in the early 17th century and the expansion of trade networks from the Chesapeake Bay region to the west and south, where connections were made with other powerful Indian nations.

When the English established Jamestown in 1607, they already knew that America was a land inhabited by others.  During the previous century, European explorers, missionaries and traders traveled along North America’s East Coast and had hundreds of encounters with the native peoples, whom the British called “Indians.” An international trade in North American animal hides, especially beaver pelts, existed well before the first colonists arrived in Virginia.

Once European colonists came to stay, trade relationships with the Indians became much more complicated.  Anglo-Indian trade sparked exploration, diplomacy, war and ultimately the seizure of Indian lands for European settlement – a far-ranging set of interactions that changed not just America but the world.

Exhibit-themed Events and Programs

The “Bartering for a Continent” theme is reflected in a range of special programs at Jamestown Settlement, including Historic Trades Fair on June 4 and 5, American Indian Intertribal Powwow on October 1 and 2, and Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia on November 24-26. Public lectures related to the exhibition theme will take place at Jamestown Settlement on September 15, 22 and 29.

Visitors also can take part in the “Search to Survive” app game while visiting Jamestown Settlement’s outdoor living-history areas to learn about cultural intermediaries and trade among the Powhatan Indian and English cultures.

The special exhibition is funded in part with a grant from James City County.

About Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement features an introductory film, expansive exhibition galleries that chronicle the nation’s 17th-century beginnings in Virginia in the context of its Powhatan Indian, English and west central African cultures, and historical interpretation at outdoor re-creations of a Powhatan village, the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607, and a colonial fort.

Jamestown Settlement, located at State Route 31 and the Colonial Parkway (2110 Jamestown Road), is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  The special exhibition is included with admission:  $17.00 for adults, $8.00 for ages 6 through 12, and children under 6 are free. A combination ticket is available with the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

For more information about the “Bartering for a Continent” special exhibition and related programs, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.

October 2016