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Trade was the earliest and for most Europeans, the only point of contact between Native Americans and the Old World. Even whites who would never set foot in North America began smoking tobacco and wearing beaver felt hats. Native Americans became eager consumers of European goods, but used them in ways that reflected their own cultural preferences and assumptions. The tin bugle beads that decorate this otterskin bag are but one example of the way in which both cultures integrated elements of the other into traditional forms and customs. Native Americans began incorporating European-worked metals such as brass, copper and tin into traditional art forms and objects. A Native person decorated this otterskin bag with cone-shaped pieces of tin.


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Otterskin Bag

creator   Ojibwa
date   c. 1775
location   Great Lakes Region
length   31.0"
width   7.25"
process/materials   otterskin, sinew, porcupine quills, tinned iron, deer hair
item type   Ceremonial Artifact/
accession #   #IR.A.08

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Painted Tobacco Bag

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Otterskin Bag

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