Colorado Mountain Men

Fur Traders, Trappers and Indians

      Fur trappers and traders began the relationship with the American Indians, which led to the eventual displacement of the Indians from their lands in the Rocky Mountains.   From the start trappers and traders had a rocky relationship with Indians based on several factors.   Traders and trappers were the first to pioneer into Indian territory, which caused alarm to the Indians.   They threatened the Indian’s hunting lands.   As trappers and traders became more known by the Indians, they became a source of income for the Indians, but they also competed with them for this income.   Trappers and traders also changed the Indian way of life; they enticed them to trap and trade for trinkets such as glass beads and alcohol, and they introduced new life threatening diseases.
      Trapping and trading for furs in the Rocky Mountains began long before the Santa Fe Trail was opened in 1822.   Trapping and trading of beaver furs began back in the mid-1700s and began to increase in the early 1800s.   It started first with Indians trapping and snaring the beavers and selling them to traders in the mid 1700s.   As time progressed Americans such as Manuel Lisa and others from the Missouri Fur Company, which was based out of St. Louis, began trapping in the Rocky Mountains in 1808.   They even built a fort on the branch of the Lewis River in 1808, but they had to abandon it in 1810 due to hostile Indians and the difficulty of bringing supplies to its remote location.     ( )   The Missouri Fur Company persisted in sending out more trappers despite the failure of its fort.   In 1810 Ezekiel Williams came out to the Rocky Mountains with 19 trappers.   Several men were killed by Arapahoe Indians, others moved on to Santa Fe, and Williams and two others were captured by Indians, held captive for two years and then escaped.   They returned in 1813 to rescue their furs, and this...