Skip navigation
Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Frontier Trade - (1790-1830)

by Charles Banks Wilson

Oil on linen
Dimensions: 13' x 27'
Commissioned by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1970
Dedicated on November 16, 1976
5th floor Rotunda

Frontier Trade by Charles Banks Wilson
Photo by John Jernigan

History Details

Frontier Trade illustrates the intense activity in the area, including boat manufacturing along the Arkansas River and fur trading at posts such as the one established by Major Jean Pierre Chouteau, a leading trader. The exporting of salt is represented by the evaporating oven shown near the fort.

  1. Trade with Osage hunters, one clan of which was "imported" by Major Chouteau.
  2. Indians from the southeastern states had long come into the region to hunt, but were considered intruders to the Missouri Valley and Plains Tribes.
  3. A common tool for making boards was the whip-saw.
  4. The U.S. Army, depicted by an officer of 1790, protected the busy fur trade.
  5. Union Mission had the first school and printing press in the territory in 1821.
  6. Experienced packers, important everywhere to the fur trade.
  7. Keelboats carrying trappers and traders sailed up the Arkansas to the falls of the Verdigris known as the Three Forks area.
  8. Flat boats carried beeswax, bear grease, nuts, lead, furs, and skins to New Orleans where the pecan, walnut, hickory, or oak used to build boats were also used.
  9. Trading posts were established in the Three Forks area by Chouteau, Sam Houston, Colonel Hugh Love, and others in the early 1800s. Washington Irving visited there during the "Tour on the Prairies."
  10. Salt springs in eastern Oklahoma made evaporating salt for export possible.
  11. Fort Gibson, established in 1824 to protect the Five Civilized Tribes from Plains Indians.
  12. Pecan tree growing at the site of old Union Mission.