Cost, Commodity, and Gift: The Board of Trade’s Conceptualization of British–Native American Gift Giving during Pontiac’s War
- Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2016
- pp. 203-224
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This paper places gift giving, a central issue of Pontiac’s War, into a broader context of British colonial administration by examining the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations’ attention to presents for Native Americans during the war. The commissioners developed an understanding of gift giving that integrated Native American lessons with Britons’ own concepts of gifts and commodities. The commissioners’ practical role mediating between colonial and government officials to purchase and finance gifts led them to identify gifts according to intended use; they came to view the relationships engendered through gift giving as a calculable return on the gift.