This Sight is Continuously Evolving
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A short history of Rendezvous.
And an explanation of the term "Buckskiner"
For those of you who are asking yourself what the heck is a
"Buckskiner." Here is a short history of the fur trade, the institution of the
"Rendezvous" and the "Buckskiners" part in it.
Around 1620, the French began trading for furs with the inhabitance of what we now call Canada. Most important of these furs was that of the Beaver. Beaver fur makes the finest waterproof felt. At this time in Europe, Beaver fur was prized for the making of felt hats.
At first a few brave men ventured into the wilderness to trade metal tools and beads for this commodity which the "Indians" had in abundance. Many a trader lost not only his goods but his life on these missions and the amount of furs that one could bring back was limited to one or two canoe loads. Eventually the institution of the Rendezvous was begun. A time (summer) and location where the traders were relatively safe was decided upon. The word was sent out to the tribes to "Rendezvous" at that location to trade their furs for the white man's goods. This system of the Summer trade fair or Rendezvous lasted until the mid 19th century.
In 1823 William Ashley an American took two boat loads of goods and one hundres men from Saint Louis up river to trap the upper Missouri country. The local Indians, angered by this intrusion into there trade attacked his boats. Several of his men were killed and he lost much of his goods. Not to be daunted, the next year he tried it again with the same result. After an aborted military mission to punish the tribes. He decided that traping the Blackfoot country was far to risky and not vary profitable so he came up with a plan to corner the market. He would send his white men into the central Rocky Mountains to trap the precious beaver and each summer instead of the trappers carrying the furs from the mountains to Saint Louis to trade to the highest bidder. They would meet at a pre-arranged spot where he would have a captured market for his goods and a monopoly on the rocky mountain fur trade.
The first of the Rocky Mountain fur trade Rendezvous was held in the year 1825 on Henry's fork of the Green River in Southern Wyoming. It wasn't long before the word got out and Ashley's monopoly disappeared. With in a few years several companies were operating in the Rockies. Each summer until 1840 a rendezvous was held somewhere in the mountains. This was the only time of year for the "Mountain Men" and their Indian allies to gather in one spot and relax. They traded their furs for the necessities of life in the wilderness. Gun powder, lead, knives, beads and trinkets for trading with the Indians, and luxury items such as coffee. When the necessities were taken care of there was
Today the Rendezvous has been re-born with a few changes. It began in the 1930's with Black powder shooting contests. In the mid 1960's these "shoots" began to take on the flavor of the original trade fairs with more and more shooters dressing in period clothing. A few living in teepees or canvass tent of pre 1840 design and practicing the lost skills of that time. Eventually these folks got the name of "Buckskiners" for the Buckskin clothing that they ware.
Most modern black powder events have two camps. One, is the modern camp which is called the Tin Teepee area, because of the motor homes and pickup campers. The other camp you will find at today's rendezvous is the Primitive camp. This is the world of the "Buckskiner." If you are ever fortunate enough to attend one of these events be sure to take a stroll through the primitive area. You will be transported to a time when things were a little simpler and people lived a little closer to the earth. Be careful though, time travel can be contagious. If you check out our Photo Album You will get some idea of what a Primitive Rendezvous looks like. Keep yer powder dry and watch yer topknot.
Be sure to read the articles and stories by Tanglefoot and others.
Don't for get to check out the;
Links to other "Buckskinner" sights