Canadian Geographic
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Early trade networks

Obsidian Trade

Prehistoric people valued the volcanic glass obsidian for its cutting properties. Artefacts made from obsidian are widespread in the Cordillera and, when traced by x-ray fluorescence analysis to their quarries of origin, have been shown to come from six source areas. As early as 7000-6000 BC obsidian from Oregon was being used in southern British Columbia, and obsidian from Anahim Peak had reached the central coast. Later the use of obsidian, the number of quarries, and the average distance from quarry to consumer all appear to have increased gradually. Probably obsidian was traded; the distribution of artefacts made of obsidian certainly establishes that there was at least indirect contact among different native peoples of the Cordillera for thousands of years.

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This interactive piece allows users to select a link on the map to reveal the trade specific to that source. Users can also click on the links in the legend to reveal all trade undertaken for that material at once.


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New Caledonia and Columbia

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Quiz :

What North American animal's pelts did the Russians trade with the Chinese in the mid 1700s?

Sea otter