2012 Native American $1 Coin: Trade Routes in the 17th Century
Native Americans have traded with one another for hundreds of years, creating paths through the wilderness along the way. Their trade routes played a major part in the growth of this nation.
Native American trails are honored in the theme for the 2012 Native American $1 Coin, “Trade Routes in the 17th Century.” The theme is symbolized on this year’s $1 Coin by a horse, a Native American man, and horses running in the background.
European goods had traveled along Native American trade routes many years before Europeans themselves were ready to leave Eastern cities and travel west. When early European traders followed these routes, they were often led by Native American guides and traders who knew them all their lives.
These same routes became the path to the exploration, settlement, and economic development of the nation. Parts of these trails guided the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803. When settlers moved westward, they also used these trails.
The Old Spanish Trail, for example, included parts of the Zuni Pueblo trade route in the Southwest and the Mojave bead route to the California coast. The Old Snake Trade Route connected the pueblos of New Mexico with the Mandan villages in the Dakotas, then branched west to Oregon. Eventually, the modern interstate highway system relied on these same paths through the countryside.
Of all the goods traded along these routes, the horse may be the most significant. Horses from Mexico had been traded by 1600 and soon became one of the hottest items in trade.
By the time Lewis and Clark wintered with the Mandan in 1803, horses were already a solid part of Mandan life. The horse had become the main way to travel and soon became the backbone of western