The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 17, July 1913 - April, 1914 Page: 62
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and Texas had not, before the taking possession of Louisiana by
Spain, engaged extensively in the fur trade, though expeditions of
which we have no notice may have been made, and a fair was
more or less regularly held at Taos, to which the Indians of the
plains took peltry to exchange for goods. But with the Louisi-
ana cession, the fur trading system of the French was taken over
by the Spanish government, and developed as the chief interest of
the colony, the principal centers for its direction being St. Louis,
Natchitoches, New Orleans, and the Arkansas Post. How much
fur trading was done during this period from New Mexico as a
base has not appeared, but we know that after 1780 considerable
energy was spent in the establishment of communication between
the new province of Louisiana and the older possession of New
Mexico. We know, also, that after the purchase of Louisiana by
the United States in 1803 the Spanish government made strenuous
efforts to retain dominion over the Indians between New Mexico
and the Missouri River by sending to them military and diplomatic
expeditions in an endeavor to induce them to keep out the American
traders and to turn their fur trade toward Santa Fe. In the interest
of this policy were sent out the expeditions of Vial, Lucero, and
Melgares, in the years 1804-1806.4 Now, from the present document,
we learn that in 1812 the Spaniards had been going "every year to
trade with the Arapahos," as far to, the northeast as northern Colo-
rado, and perhaps into Wyoming. Whether this enterprise was a
new development, and part of the policy of resistance to American
advance just adverted to, or the continuation of an established prac-
tice, we cannot at present say for certain, though the former seems
to have been the case, judging from the evidence available.
The question arises naturally as to just where the Arapaho re-
ferred to were at this time. In general it is held by scholars that
the Arapaho were divided into two branches, one inhabiting the
North Platte in Wyoming, and the other the South Platte, in
northern Colorado.5 Chittenden, in his work on the western fur
trade, maintains that "no such distinction was known to the traders
and trappers, and no Indians of this name are ever spoken of as
dwelling in the northern mountains. When the Arapahos are
mentioned the tribe in the valley of the South Platte is always
4Cox, I. J., The Exploration of Louisiana, 65-74.
MIooney, in Hodge, Handbook of American Indians, I, 72.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 17, July 1913 - April, 1914, periodical, 1914; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101061/m1/66/: accessed August 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.