Article ID: CBB001212880

Fashioning Moccasins: Detroit, the Manufacturing Frontier, and the Empire of Consumption, 1701--1835 (2012)


Moccasins were worn by Euroamericans on many frontiers, but colonial Detroiters, unlike other frontier residents, did not just wear moccasins; they also manufactured them. By the 1770s Detroit was home to at least three tanneries that produced native-style shoes. Due to Detroit's situation in the heart of the Great Lakes, merchants then shipped moccasins to the eastern seaboard. By the early nineteenth century, this frontier footwear had transitioned into imperial culture. The fashioning of moccasins---tracing the appropriation, fabrication, distribution, marketing, and consumption of a native cultural item by nonnatives---challenges our understanding of the frontier in three ways. It establishes the existence and scope of a hybridized culture that borrowed and blended the most useful components of several cultural traditions. It demonstrates that Detroit capitalized on components of both west and east to capture some degree of commercial autonomy. And it identifies an instance in which the interior influenced and shaped the Atlantic. The local production of moccasins for an eastern clientele reversed production, distribution, consumption, and fashionability to flow from west to east. Such a reordering enabled Detroit to exert both its importance within and its distinctness from empire.

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Authors & Contributors
Ryzewski, Krysta
Bennett, Robert
Blackmar, Elizabeth
Bluestone, Daniel M.
Borg, Kevin L.
Brown, Kendall W.
Early American Studies
Economic History Review
Revue d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine
Brown University
Cambridge University Press
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Boston University
Carnegie Publishing
Technology and economics
Great Britain, colonies
Technology and culture
Technological innovation
Boulton, Matthew
Watt, James
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
17th century
20th century
20th century, early
North America
United States
Michigan (U.S.)
Detroit (Michigan)
General Motors Corporation

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