Sunday, February 4, 2018

A 17th-Century Indian Explains Economics

In truth, my brother, the Beaver does everything to perfection. He makes for us kettles, axes, swords, knives and gives us drink and food without the trouble of cultivating the ground.

–Chrestien Le Clerq, A New Relations of Gaspesia, c. 1680

From the Champlain Society edition of 1910, edited and translated by William F. Ganong. The editor notes that a very similar phrase about the great skill of the beaver appears in the Jesuit Relation (annual report of the mission) of 1634. So this was something of a conventional phrase in 17th-century Canada. Father le Clerq offers the Micmac original, not just a French translation, and it seems to be generally accepted that this was really spoken by an Indian.

Via Marginal Revolution

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Too bad the fur trade collapsed in the 1800s due to changing fashions in clothing, and all the native people who had become dependant on manufactured goods had by that point lost much of the knowledge and skills necessary to survive without such goods, and had to become paupers and work for others just to get by.

All your eggs in one basket, and such...