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Old 04-19-2011, 01:39 PM
14,781 posts, read 38,777,552 times
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Originally Posted by Capt. Dan View Post
Does this mean that there was interaction between the Spanish and the Russians? Werent the Russians well entrenched in the NW during this time period?
There was certainly interaction between them, but I wouldn't frame the Russians as being "well entrenched". For the most part, no one was really entrenched in the area and it was primarily a trade destination. The local natives sold otter pelts to the trade expeditions in exchange for metal. The traders than took the otter pelts to ports in China where otter pelts were an extremely valuable luxury good. The pelts were exchanged for tea, spices and silk and the ships returned to Europe to sell their cargo and repeat the trip.

The Spanish still operated under the auspices of the Treaty of Tordesillas and the Treaty of Zaragoza which gave them dominion over everything in the "New World". The Spanish had a very difficult time actually laying claim to these vast lands and since England, the Netherlands and Russia among others didn't recognize the treaties, the Spanish claims were eroded over time.

The Spanish practice was to explore an area and place crosses with notes in a bottle buried at their base to stake their claims. It took until the late 18th Century for the Spanish to even begin exploring the Pacific NW and then only at the threat posed to their claims by British and Russian traders and explorers.

The British resisted the staking of Spanish claims in the area and this led to a series of treaties known as the Nootka (Nootka is now known as Vancouver Island) Conventions dividing the land between the Spanish and British. The British were granted the area that roughly comprises modern British Columbia, while the Spanish were granted everything comprising modern Washington State south.

In terms of the Russians while they had many minor trade posts throughout the Pacific NW they never formalized their claims until 1799 with the formation of the Russian-America Company. At that time they only laid claim to Alaska that was nominally claimed by Spain as well, a claim the Spanish later dropped. The Russians also operated outposts in California well into the 1800's, but never laid official claim. At it's peak Russian colonies in America numbered about 700 people primarily engaged in the fur trade.
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