• Various/Onna Carr

Guns, Knives, and Eskimo Wives:  a Trip to the Museum of the Fur Trade

Updated: Oct 28, 2019

Post by Onna Carr

This last week, my family and I visited the Museum of the Fur Trade just outside of Chadron, Nebraska, a museum I have been interested in for three years. I have been working on some historical fiction (non-romance) that involves the lives of a fur trapper and his family set on the Nebraska-Dakota border, and I have done extensive research concerning the late 1800's. Because of this writing project, I thought a visit to the Museum of the Fur Trade might aid my research for this project.

The displays included at the Museum of the Fur Trade have many interesting items:

1. A medal given to the Hudson Bay Company because of the quality of their fur exhibits at the Crystal Palace that has an impression of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (with a Latin inscription to the effect that "Queen Victoria and Prince Albert endorse this product line!")

2. A pipe/hatchet a Native American warrior had at Washita is also there, which I found unique as I have never seen a hatchet/pipe combination before and sad as the hatchet had witnessed such suffering.

3. A beautiful samovar and Russian paper money that was printed in the US is also on display from a Russian fur trade company.

4. A cribbage board made from a walrus tusk is original and of interesting design.

In addition, Nanook of the North is played in the Museum of the Fur Trade. My family and I enjoyed watching this first documentary. We especially like one of the opening scenes where Nanook pulls up in his kayak, gets out, helps his one son off the top of the boat and then proceeds to pull his two wives, baby, and a small puppy out of the hull of the kayak. The igloo-making scene is also interesting as Nanook installs a window into the igloo that is made out of ice and proceeds to take the cut-out piece of snow and make it into a reflector to draw light into the window. The story of this trapper and of his family's fight to survive by walrus-hunting, catching seals or salmon, and trapping foxes in the early 1900's is fascinating. Overall, Nanook of the North was one of the highlights of our visit as we had not seen this film in over fifteen years.

The Museum of the Fur Trade includes many outdoor exhibits: a log cabin, a sod house, and a garden exhibiting plants native to the area. The Museum of the Fur Trade also has an extensive collection of hunting guns and knives on display as well. Overall, with the unique exhibits and informative displays, the Museum of the Fur Trade was enjoyable stop. I especially enjoyed seeing the medal from the Crystal Palace and the outdoor garden was lovely as well. Lastly, but certainly not least, Nanook of the North was an unexpected treat and an enjoyable viewing experience!

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