Mountain Man/Mormon Interaction

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imageThe first segment of the Mormon Pioneer journey, from Winter Quarters to Fort Laramie took six weeks, with the company arriving at the fort on June 1, 1847.

imageThe company halted for repairs and to re-shoe the draft animals.  While at Fort Laramie, the vanguard company was joined by members of the Mormon Battalion who had been excused from service due to illness and sent to winter in Pueblo, Coloradoimage.

Also traveling in the new group were Church members from Mississippi who had taken a more southern route toward the Great Basin. At this point, the now larger company took the established Oregon Trail toward the trading post at Fort Bridger.

At a difficult crossing of the Platte, just before encountering the Sweetwater River, the company made use of their portable boat and were able to cross with comparative ease.

imageSeizing the opportunity to both help future travelers and increase the cash available to the migration, nine men under the direction of Thomas Grover were left behind to construct and operate a ferry at that location. Missourians and other travellers at the river paid the Saints $1.50 or more per wagon to help them cross.

imageDuring the last week of June, Sam Brannan, leader of the Mormon emigrant ship Brooklyn, met the company near Green River, Wyoming. He reported to Young about his group’s successful journey and their settlement in what is today San Francisco, California.  He urged the vanguard company to continue on to California but was unable to shift the leader’s focus away from the Great Basin.
imageBrigham Young met mountain man, Jim Bridger, on June 28. They discussed possible routes into the Salt Lake Valley, and the feasibility of viable settlements in the mountain valleys of the Great Basin.image

Bridger was enthusiastic about settlement near Utah Lake, reporting fish, wild fruit, timber and good grazing. He told Young that local Indians raised good crops, including corn and pumpkins, but that there was ever-present danger of frost.

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The Collapse of the Fur Trade

As the 1840s approached, the fur trade began to collapse.  There was a lessening demand for furs in Europe.  Fur bearing animals had become over-trapped and there were no longer many to be found.  With the silk trade, fabric took a stronghold and furs were considered too expensive for the common person to wear.  At the same time, killing an animal for fur became less politically correct.
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Mountain Man, Robert Newell, told Jim Bridger: “We are done with this life in the mountains — done with wading in beaver dams, and freezing or starving alternately — done with Indian trading and Indian fighting. The fur trade is dead in the Rocky Mountains, and it is no place for us now, if ever it was.”image

The final rendezvous was held in 1840.

As trapping became less and less lucrative, other means of earning a livelihood began a whisper in the ear of the weary mountain man.imageFortuitously, Manifest Destiny received a powerful push with two new international treaties in early 1846 and early 1848 officially settling ownership of the Pacific coast territories and Oregon Country to the United States.  This spurred an upsurge in America’s ongoing migration, in 1847-48, as it built rapidly from a trickle to a flood, largely due to the highly organized Mormon migration that exploited the road to the Great Salt Lake discovered by Mountain Man Jim Bridger.imageThe migration further exploded in 1849 as “The Forty-Niners,” responded to the discovery of gold in California in 1848.
image Many of the mountain men settled into jobs as Army Scouts, wagon train guides and settlers along the reliable mule trails through the lands which they had helped open up. The trails gradually improved into wagon capable freight roads. 
imageOthers, like William Sublette, opened up fort-trading posts along the Oregon Trail to service the remnant fur trade and the settlers heading west. During the summer of 1845 alone an estimated 5,000 immigrants went west. These immigrant trains from the east, and government surveying expeditions, provided a new realm of employment for the trappers.imageMilitary service was often the natural progression for trappers who guided for surveying expeditions. Sometimes the trappers joined the service out of loyalty to a particular officer, or because they were in the right place at the right time. Actual titles were not often needed and sometimes only given after long service.

Great News!

We have some very exciting news to share with you!

Bear Lake Rendezvous is pleased to announce that our event in August of 2015 has been moved up a week! BLR066

The new dates this year are:
August 17-25,
with the main event
occurring on
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 21-23!

 

This is good news in so many ways, the most significant being that our event now falls on a weekend that is void of any other rendezvous in the area. Traders and die-hard rendezvous attendees will no longer feel torn about which events to attend because conflicts in scheduling have been removed!  This adjustment also provides for less potential of having a run-in with mother nature and the grumbling skies that Fall sometimes brings to the area. We just couldn’t be happier!

medallionSO,
RE-MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
HELP SPREAD THE WORD!
BEAR LAKE RENDEZVOUS IS THE
21ST THROUGH THE 23RD!

(Hey!  That rhymes!)

18Those already pre-registered traders, who were contacted about the possibility of this change, do not need to resubmit registration.  We will update our forms and flyers, and contact all other websites that may be advertising the now incorrect dates.  BLR064

Traders who haven’t yet, and wish to pre-register, please feel free to use the old forms while we run through the process of updating everything.

Thanks!
See you in August!

Native American Dress

crow indiansNative American clothing has a long, diverse history. Each tribe used similar techniques of manufacture, but that is where the similarities stopped. Tribes dressed distinctively as a claim of their heritage. Great pride was taken in each design. Initially, tribal attire was quite different from region to region.

IndiananimalrelationhipNative American people believe that humans and animals are related and should treat each other with respect and kindness. Animals give themselves to humans for food and clothing.  The hunter thanks them for their sacrifice by using as much of the animal as possible. It is said that to wear an animal skin inside out or in any different way than the animal would “is disrespectful to the animal.”

breechclothleggings

Common items of clothing for men, among the tribes, were breechcloths and leggings. Often the breechcloth is all men would wear. As it got colder, the men would wear leather leggings, for extra warmth, that were attached to their breechcloths. Some tribes wore kilts. Some wore trousers made of furs. The Sioux wore war shirts. In some Tribes, women wore skirts and would also go without a shirt. The Cheyenne preferred a one-piece buckskin dress.

bark clothBark was stripped, dried, and shredded to make fibers which were then used to weave soft, comfortable cloth. The Pomo tribe wore skirts made from redwood bark. The Cherokee used mulberry bark. The Paiute and Washoe shredded the plentiful sagebrush bark. Tribes of the rainy Northwest Coast, such as the Tlingit and the Suquamish, used the bark of the cedar tree.

weaving loomMany tribes used handmade methods of weaving, but natives of the American Southwest were the first group to develop a loom for weaving cloth. In 1200, well before the arrival of the first Europeans, Indians in the Southwest grew cotton and wove it into cloth. They also wove yucca, wool, feathers, and even human hair. Breechclouts, leggings, and skirts were often made of woven fibers.

trousers

Tribes living in colder regions needed thicker clothing, so they wore trousers, jackets, and hooded anoraks. Women also wore leggings under their skirt or tunic. The Iroquois and Pequot chose to accessorize their clothes with fur, claws and shells. Southeast tribes like the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole and the Shawnee of the Plains used feathers and teeth.elktoothdress

In Native cultures, women often wore the same dress for years, so the garment was designed to tell the woman’s story.  Symbols referred to her tribe, marital status, and the hunting prowess of her husband or father.   A dress bedazzled with dozens of elk eyeteeth spoke of the skilled hunters in her family .tanning hides

It takes about 40 hours of hard, physical work to prepare a hide properly.  At first, a single animal hide was folded in half. The two edges were then sewn to create a straight tube dress, which made movement difficult, twohidedressso women in nomadic tribes began making two-hide dresses. Garments were cut to take advantage of the natural shape of the hides.  The tail of the animal was placed at the top of dress, and was a highly desirable neck embellishment.  Later in the nineteenth century it became fashionable to remove the tail from the hide and replace it with intricate beadwork . Two-hide dresses evolved into three-hide dresses, with the third hide folded like a short cape over the two-hide garment.

beadwork2

Dresses were warm and weather appropriate.  They were often additionally adorned with porcupine quills, bits of tin, carved bone, animal sinew, coins, animal teeth, fossilized shells, and the brightly colored glass beads that traders brought from the glass factories in Europe. Thousands of hours would go into the embellishment of Native American wear, often with the entire yoke covered in beads.

In the 1800s, the Cherokee Indians were the first to begin to adopt the culture that the white man brought to them. They began to dress more European, and even adopted many of their farming and building methods.

Mills in England wove wool specifically for trading with Native Americans and by the mid-nineteenth century, dresses made of this “Indian cloth” were common.  The wool was often dyed a vivid scarlet or dark blue, with the un-dyed selvage incorporated in the design to fall at the edge of the garment.  It was also in the 1800s that rows of ribbon, shells or beads were added as another design element.

mukluk

All the tribes had similar styles of footwear, from moccasins to mukluk, although they too were often distinguished by tribe, via cut, beadwork and painted designs.  Native Americans living in the East wore soft-soled moccasins decorated in zoomorphic or flower designs. The designs covered everything except the sides of the moccasins.  The western plains Indians wore hard soled moccasins made from two pieces of leather.  Designs on these moccasins covered the entire top of the moccasin but left the cuffs free of marking.

Once colonization began, tribes intermingled more, and their clothes became more and more alike.   To understand fully the distinctions of each tribe, the years before colonization must be studied.  As Native Americans had continued contact with Europeans and white settlers, they eagerly incorporated new items, such as the glass beads and silver ornaments previously mentioned, into their wardrobes.  As they moved to the reservations, their new circumstances forced them to buy clothing from whites, which drastically changed the way Native Americans dressed.

Kesha-6

To the Native American, imitation is not the highest form of flattery.  Children dressing up as an Indian at Halloween, the Hippies of the sixties wearing fringe, and feathers in their hair, to Woodstock, and the current trend of pop stars to wear a headdress during a grammy performance, is highly offensive and is believed, by the Native American population, to disregard Indian spirituality.

Authentic Attire for Rendezvous Women

Women’s apparel, during the Fur Trade era, was simple and practical.
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Appearing in the 1700’s, as a staple wardrobe item, the CHEMISE was worn during the day as an undergarment and doubled at night as a nightgown. The neck and sleeves of the chemise had drawstrings which allowed for adjustment in size and comfort.  Colors were usually white or natural and the fabric was typically a cotton muslin.

The chemise was topped with an ENGLISH BODICE and SKIRT during the day.
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The ensemble was further adorned with a MOP HAT, MODESTY PIECE at the neck, and APRON when the woman performed her chores.

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CLOTH DRESSES were also introduced to the Plains Indian Women with the westward movement of the fur trade.women3
Women also wore MOCCASINS and CAPOTES.moccasins2capote2

Visitors to The Bear Lake Rendezvous who choose to come in authentic dress will gain free admission!  Gate fees for all other guests are $3.00 per person, per day. Lodgers in the Primitive camp and Traders must adhere to authentic dress requirements.  We want everyone to enjoy the Rendezvous!  If you have any questions about authentic wear, please contact Kash Johnson

Email:  kash@bearlakerendezvous.com
Telephone: 801-452-1518
Mail:  Bear Lake Rendezevous, P.O. Box 44, Woodruff, UT   84086