A respected historian will be visiting Williston this week to give a presentation on the Fur Trade era.
James A. Hanson, historian and editor for the Museum of the Fur Trade in Nebraska, will be presenting on Thursday at the Williston ARC. The presentation, "Old Trail and New Directions," will focus on the research that has been done on the Fur Trade, and what still needs to be done in regards to the subject. The presentation is a collaboration between the Arts and Human Sciences departments at WSC and the National Park Service at Fort Union Trading Post.
Richard Stenberg, associate professor of history and political science at WSC, referred to Hanson as a "walking encyclopedia" of knowledge about the Fur Trade, a subject Hanson has studied most of his life. Hanson's expertise is on the material culture of the fur trade, meaning the types of materials that were used by fur traders, as well as the types of materials that were being traded.
Hanson's expertise was put to use recently in Hollywood, as he consulted with director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for the film The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Hanson assisted with some of the finer details of the film, helping to ensure a realistic portrayal.
"I advised them on language, on trapping, on building fires," Hanson said. "I got calls from New York hairdressers who were designing the Indian face paint and hair."
In appreciation of his work on the film, four full costumes were donated to the Museum of the Fur Trade, and are currently on display.
Stenberg said that the theme of Hanson's presentation refers to the "Old Trails" of what has already been written about the Fur Trade, and the "New Directions" future research should take to showcase the different aspects of the Fur Trade that may not be as well known.
"There's no doubt a stereotype that a lot of people automatically go to of the 'Mountain Man' with the long beard and buckskins and a horse and some traps and they went up and trapped in the mountains for the winter," he explained. "Not that that didn't happen, but it was a short chapter of the Fur Trade. There's far more to it than that."
Stenberg cited work that needs to be done in highlighting the roles of women and minorities during the era, and their importance to the Fur Trade.
"That's one field of study that's kind of begging to be looked at." he said.
Along with the talk at the ARC, Hanson will also be taking part in Fort Union's Living History Weekend, taking place this weekend. Hanson will be discussing his latest project, an encyclopedia of the Fur Trade, as well as presenting a vignette as part of the Last Bell Tours on Saturday night.
Hanson will present at the Williston ARC on Thursday at 7 p.m. and at 3 p.m. on Saturday as part of Fort Union's Living History Weekend. The Last Bell Tours begin around 8 p.m. at Fort Union. Living History Weekend runs Sept. 1 through 3 at Fort Union. All the events are free and open to the public.