The Tradeblanket

About Tradeblanket

Native American culture revolved around barter trade in addition to basic living needs. This principle is embodied in the trade blanket. Not only were the blankets traded, but the blanket became a storefront of sorts. Goods were piled on the blanket as both parties attempted to gain an advantageous compromise.

In the same way, we have created this web to encourage involvement in our interests. Do you have something to trade?

We are into re-enactment camping, model airplanes, novel writing, galley cooking, gardening and outdoor cooking events.

What was a Tradeblanket? by Wind on Tall Grass

My husband has asked me several times to describe or explain the reasoning of ‘trade blanket’ as the name of this web site. For months I have been trying to describe with words what it means, what is the purpose, why choose this as a name when we came up with other really rather witty names? This term seemed so collective….collective! Exactly! Trade blankets were so much to so many and it meant a variety of things to a variety of people. The families of the MVL thrive during their mid 18th century reenactments, enthusiastically living and demonstrating the lifestyles, crafts and arts of the trapper, fur traders, voyageurs, herbalists, gardeners, seamstresses, smiths, cooks, weavers, dancers, music makers, mothers, fathers, siblings…I’m sure you get the picture. The one thing recognizable to every family member of the MVL, as well as any person of that true period, is a good trade blanket.

You see, a tradeblanket is the blanket the trader would wrap his goods in and when he settled in for a few days of camp after trekking across miles and miles of rough territory. He would rest on it, continue working his crafts on it, display his trade goods on, and at nightfall, use it for protection from the weather; be it shade, warmth, wind break or rain poncho. Many of the natives that attended rendezvous gatherings with the traders would seek and trade magnificent furs and food for a good blanket. Merchants and traders were known by their blankets, both good and bad. At many rendezvous gatherings, folks would agree to meet at a certain point in the day and often declare their meeting place by an easily spotted trade blanket. The blankets became the shingles that represented the trader, the shops of the craftspeople, the colors of a clan or family. Many women of the era would embellish the blankets, adding beautiful ornamental porcupine quillwork , ribbons or beadwork. Blankets with bands of bold color commanded a higher price than a single color blanket. It was a place to gather and exchange news, ideas, announcements.

It is no secret to children how special a blanket is. For many children who rendezvous with reenactment families, the blanket is their first acquisition to blend into their new weekend lifestyle. They know they can just wrap up in their blanket and walk around the camp, learning, watching, contributing what children do best…be themselves. They are careful to watch closely over it, to keep it dry so when the air chills down to the point you can see your breath, they can wrap in their blanket as they gather around the fire and listen to the elders share their stories, show off their days’ labor, talk of their great trade or hunt, sing or chat, and laugh and giggle until mothers carry them back to their bedrolls, where, you guessed it, they were covered with their own blanket. Children will take their blankets with them when their chores are completed; firewood is gathered, water is brought to the camp, ropes are secured and they will spread them out to trade buckeyes, mystical rocks, novice crafts and whittling tokens. The blanket is their show and share source, their comfort of their camp home and their true treasure to display. It is our hope that this “Tradeblanket” site will be a haven for you to share your wares, lend your knowledge, tell your stories, show and share your interests and talents that lend to the wonderful reenactment of MVL. We all bring something unique to our camps, and when you can’t get to a rendezvous to breathe in the smoke laden air, perhaps you can rest awhile at this tradeblanket and partake of all that it has to offer.

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