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An Ancient Bond with the Land

Trade Fairs

Many Kinds of Exchange

Trade fairs brought together large groups of people for several days to trade, socialize and settle disagreements. These gatherings took place at agreed-upon locations, and usually involved two distinct, sometimes mistrustful, groups.

While trade implies cooperation, antagonisms could always flare up. Ceremonies, gift giving and other protocols were necessary precautions to avoid misunderstandings and disruption of activities. Trade fairs were only one of many ways that Aboriginal peoples exchanged goods and ideas. Others included long-distance trading expeditions, permanent trade centres, ceremonial gatherings, and raiding parties.

Trade fairs lessened geographical and political distances between groups, and were held in many areas of Aboriginal North America.

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