Sixth grade students get hands-on Fur Trade history lesson

Posted on: Jan 16, 2024

Students in 6th grade at Delano Intermediate School recently had an opportunity to learn about business and Minnesota's Fur Trade industry. 

Bill Beckman, presenter and retired history teacher with 40 years of experience came to DIS for the second consecutive year in full Fur Trade era attire to give students a real-life Fur Trade business experience. Students were excited to see and touch the many historical artifacts in Beckman’s collection. Beckman brought the Fur Trade lesson to life through role-play using furs and artifacts donated by the Minnesota Trappers Association or the Minnesota History Society and items he purchased or made himself. He told the stories while students tried on hats, coats and furs to experience history. Students learned how early Europeans paddled heavy cargo-laden canoes through the vast interior of North America. They also learned how the French and the Dakota and Ojibwa Indians bartered with one another trading furs, the value of particular animal pelts, and a mixture of cloth (cotton or wool), beads, trinkets, mirrors, traps, knives, tomahawks, and trade rifles.

Beckman's nearly 60-minute presentation enhanced the intermediate school’s social study curriculum and provided a unique way of learning. The opportunity was another example of how Delano Public Schools provides learning experiences for all students.