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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This modern beaver pelt is stretched and tied on a hoop using the methods traditional to the natives of New England. Animal hides had to be stretched after they were harvested to retain their shape. Beaver fur had a remarkably sensual texture and it was highly prized by Europeans and natives. Soon after the first European settlements in North America in the early 1600s, traders began a thriving traffic in goods for beaver pelts, setting off a fashion mania for beaver skin products in Europe. Natives began hunting many more beavers than their lands could sustain in exchange for European trade goods. This valuable trade led to several wars, not only between natives and Europeans, but among the Native American nations. Within fifty years the beavers had been hunted out of the Connecticut Valley and Europeans began seeking supplies from further west and north.
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