The Delicate Balance of Honesty
The trade in skins was dependent on mutual trust. As such, Native women often traveled with the men to the trading posts to keep an eye on the wily white traders. In contrast, some Mohawk women were known to rub sand into the furs to increase the weight when the furs were put on the scale. One famous story from Seneca country relates that a dishonest fur trader used his arm as a weight and claimed it weighed eight pounds so he saw no need to use actual weights. After three seasons of this infamous cheat, some Seneca men killed the trader in anger and as an afterthought removed his arm and tossed it on the scale. It weighed eight pounds after all.
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