From 1828 to 1867, the disparate cultures of the American West met, mingled, and did business together at Fort Union Trading Post.
At Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, much of the original structure and the trading house have been rebuilt. Living historians in period dress stage trades in the courtyard.
The American Fur Company selected this strategic location on the upper Missouri River, where Indians, travelers, and traders could trade fur products for a wide variety of supplies.
Ten different Indian tribes, including Assiniboine, Blackfeet, Hidatsa, Crow, and Cree, regularly trekked to the trading post. They brought robes made of fur and buffalo hide, and left with guns, knives, blankets, beads, fabric, and metalware.
The trading post employed a small city of managers, clerks, and craftsmen, many of whom married Indian women and started families. Their children, called “Metis” or mixed-blood, moved easily between the two cultures, translating language and customs to ease relations.
Many notable visitors crossed the post’s threshold during nearly 40 years of business. John James Auduobon, George Catlin, Prince Maximilian. Karl Bodmer painted “The Assiniboine at Fort Union” about a mile up the railroad tracks. Stroll up the Bodmer Overlook trails to the spot where he set up his easel.