Henry Moves Near Post Set Up by Chaboillez
The trading post manned by Alexander Henry the Younger on the high riverbanks of the Red River is now near one opened by a Nor’ Wester in the fall of 1797.
Charles Jean Baptiste Chaboillez is almost 60 years old. He was at Pembina when David Thompson visited in 1797. Chaboillez has something in common with Alexander Henry and David Thompson besides their interest in trading with the native peoples. All three married native women. The children of these marriages have come to think of themselves as a “new nation”; Metis. The world means “mixed blood.”
Henry came to the area in the summer of 1800, from Grand Portage by way of Lake Winnipeg. His group included eight canoes of four or five voyageurs each. Each canoe held 28 90-pound packs of goods. The goods Henry brought included corn, grease, tobacco, guns, gunpowder, lead, flour and sugar. Henry also brought what the traders call “high wine” (rum)—concentrated alcohol which is watered down before it is given to the native peoples.
On his 1800 trip, Henry went south of Pembina with eight Chippewa and their families to Park River to trade. This year, he came back north because of the Yanktonai Sioux, who control the area to the south.
Henry has built a high stockade to protect the traders and has finished a storehouse, a stable, and a few whitewashed houses. “It is very difficult getting here with goods”, says Henry. He is particularly proud of the voyageurs. They are “smart, active men,” Henry says of the group that had to carry the canoes and cargoes over 62 portages, muddy paths to up to a thousand yards long in areas where the water could not be navigated.
Henry is an avid gardener who plans to grow many vegetables. He says that there are huge herds of buffalo that pass within a few hundred yards of the fort. Henry operates on credit. He gives the Chippewa and some Cree and Assiniboin goods worth twenty beaver skins and sends them out each fall.
By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton
Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.