chapter  2
15 Pages

‘But whatever were the honey in the mouth of that beast of trade, there was a deadly sting in the tail’

New Netherland’s monetary policy and the Coastal Algonquian pragmatic response during the seventeenth century
WithMario Schmidt

This chapter examines the different understandings of money circulating in the colonial society that sets the stage for a cross-cultural comparison arguing that Native Americans, who are too often still perceived as economically illiterate lovers of gewgaws and reciprocity, might have had competitive advantages due to their more flexible and pragmatic understanding of the role of money in an economy. It suggests that, while the Dutch authorities considered money as a political problem, the Coastal Algonquian perceived it as an economic opportunity. The chapter explores the ways in which other North American colonial authorities dealt with Indigenous pragmatic approaches towards money and the politically complex economic situations of their own colonies with special focus on monetary innovations. The colony of New Netherland had ultimately been unable to find an appropriate substitute for its dual currency system, which had proven to be indefensible without the fur trade monopoly, its mercantilist backbone.