Frontier Exchange Economy
The frontier exchange economy in colonial Louisiana provided a framework for Indians and colonists to exchange goods without the use of money. It operated on a face-to-face basis, where Indians and colonists exchanged goods in relation to an agreed-upon set of trade values or equivalencies.
Here, for example, is a list of some trade equivalencies used in the Mississippi Valley during the late 18th century:
Let’s imagine that you are an Indian hunter in colonial Louisiana. It is 1775, and what you see above are the current exchange rates for the deer skins and buffalo hides you have brought for trade. You have 24 buffalo hides in good condition. You want to trade for two guns, eight extra flint locks, 60 flints, two pints of power, and 300 bullets. Plus you want 6 knives. Your wife also wants 30 strands of beads, 4 blankets, 8 yards of calico, 12 yards of flannel, 2 pairs of scissors, a dozen needles, 10 skeins of white thread, and 2 hoes. You also want a new gingham shirt for each of your two young sons. How many deer skins will you need to trade for these items?