Chevron Trade Beads

Tales and Treasures from the rich legacy of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Written by Beverley Tallon

December 21, 2011

Hudson’s Bay Company trade beads were seen as symbols of friendship and given to indigenous people as gifts, to forge alliances or treaties, and to permit passage.

To some chiefs, especially on the West Coast, beads were seen as important status symbols. To show off their wealth, chiefs would sometimes discard the beads by throwing them into the water.

The chevron bead is perhaps the most prized. These beads were multicoloured, multi-layered glass, mainly red, white, and blue in colour, and ground on both ends to form a melon shape.

This article originally appeared in the October-November 2011 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

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