“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near St. Peter in Nicollet County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Fur Trader Louis Provencalle

Fur Trader Louis Provencalle Marker image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, May 5, 2014
1. Fur Trader Louis Provencalle Marker
Inscription. Because of its importance as a river crossing, Traverse des Sioux was a major distribution point for the fur trade.

As early as the 1770s, the Dakota were trading here for guns, blankets, and kettles. One prominent local trader was the French-Canadian Louis Provencalle, who worked here from 1826 until about 1848. Provencalle, his Dakota wife, and their four children lived in a cabin near this site. Their cabin (sketched here after the family had abandoned it) was used as a dining room, kitchen, and warehouse during the July 1851 treaty negotiations.


Provencalle was good at arithmetic but could not read or write. He kept track of his credits and debits with a system of pictograms. Each person or type of trade good had a specific mark or figure. According to the missionary Samuel Pond, "This mode of keeping accounts had one advantage over the others, in that the Indians could easily learn to read this picture writing and see for themselves how their accounts stood." For example, the curved-horn figure on the bottom of this page from one of Provencalle's credit books stands for a decorated powder horn.

Minnesota Historical Society
Traverse des Sioux

Erected by the Minnesota Historical Society
Close-up of Sketch and Ledger image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, May 5, 2014
2. Close-up of Sketch and Ledger
Marker series. This marker is included in the Minnesota Historical Society marker series.
Location. 44° 21.161′ N, 93° 57.09′ W. Marker is near St. Peter, Minnesota, in Nicollet County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of North Minnesota Avenue (U.S. 169) and Dodd Avenue (State Highway 22), on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is along an interpretive trail that is adjacent to the Nicollet County Historical Society Treaty Site History Center. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1851 North Minnesota Avenue, Saint Peter MN 56082, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Rush for Land (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ministering to the Dakota (about 600 feet away); Ecakensdonyapi (about 700 feet away); Exploring the River Valley (about 700 feet away); Archaeology (about 800 feet away); Land-Seas (approx. 0.2 miles away); "Only a Memory Now" (approx. 0.2 miles away); Welcome to Traverse des Sioux (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in St. Peter.
More about this marker. captions:
• Frank B. Mayer, Old Trading House, 1851. Courtesy Newberry Library
• Indian trade ledgers, 1836–1848
Also see . . .
Fur Trader Louis Provencalle Marker image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, May 5, 2014
3. Fur Trader Louis Provencalle Marker
Traverse des Sioux Interpretive Trail

1. Traverse des Sioux. History. Minnesota Historical Society. "For thousands of years, Traverse des Sioux was a crossroads and meeting place.... Traverse des Sioux soon grew up around the site with more than 70 buildings, including five taverns, two hotels and several churches. In 1856, however, nearby St. Peter was chosen as the county seat and by the late 1860s, nothing was left of the once-booming town of Traverse des Sioux." (Submitted on August 11, 2014.) 

2. Louis Provençalle, Fur Trader. Minnesota Historical Society. "Louis Provençalle died, according to [Henry H.] Sibley, at Mendota in 1850. His old cabin, however, still stood at Traverse des Sioux in 1851, when the artist, Frank B. Mayer, visited that place and made sketches of it." (Submitted on August 11, 2014.) 

3. Treaty of Traverse des Sioux. Minnesota Historical Society. "The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux of 1851 is an agreement between the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota and the U.S. government. It transferred ownership of much of southern and western Minnesota from the Dakota to the United States." (Submitted on August 11, 2014.) 
Categories. Industry & CommerceNative AmericansSettlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 211 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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