It’s autumn in Montana, 1840, two Blackfoot hunters have come to this wilderness outpost with a prime painted buffalo robe and an elk hide to trade for powder and ball.
White men who were drawn to the frontier were quick studies and adept survivors. The man holding the robe runs this Musselshell Valley trading post. He carries out his negotiations with the few words of Blackfoot he speaks and sign language. He has surrounded himself with other fundamental tools of negotiation in this part of the world. Next to him stands a large and robust woodsman whose physical power could be crucial in this dangerous environment. Sitting on the wooden barrow is a well experienced hunter. The loaded gun in his arm and a pistol in his belt are ready for any sudden threat.
Safety is not the concern of these Blackfoot men, trade is. Both hunters are wearing capotes which have been made from Hudson Bay Company blankets. The older of the two leads their side of the negotiation. From his body language it is apparent that he has had experience in trading with the white people. His less experienced partner waits quietly and carefully observes.
A painted hide held a higher value to the Indians because it might depict a warrior's heroism or record important events in the history of a tribe. The Blackfoot is doing his best to carefully communicate the value of this robe, hoping to make a good deal. Fall is an important hunting season, and the additional ammunition this trade can secure will help to provide for the long cold Montana winter ahead. - ZSL
Z. S. Liang - Painted Robe for Powder and Ball, Musselshell Valley, Montana, 1840
Product Code: LIAPA2