In 1821, the Hudson’s Bay Company and North West Company merged, robbing Native people like the Blackfoot of trade leverage by forcing them to trade with only one partner. At the same time, American and Canadian traders made inroads with Indigenous nations in the intermountain West, eroding Blackfoot advantages over their neighbors. Facing the loss of their strategic advantages, Blackfoot people responded by welcoming American traders from the American Fur Company to the upper Missouri River for the first time in 1830, thus securing themselves a privileged position and reasserting themselves as the region’s dominant power. Their borderlands position gave them leverage over non-Native traders and provided crucial mobility and flexibility that other Native people lacked.
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