University of Calgary

George Colpitts

  • Professor

My Research Interests

The history of human relations around trade, exchange and cultural encounter, with related interests in human encounters within the wild world: how the meaning of wildlife has changed in time, and how humanity has interacted with, found inspiration in, and frequently commodified in trade the wild things around them. Keyword research: fur trade and industry, modernity and animals, the North, Native history, parks, and sports hunting and angling.

My current SSHRC-funded research project analyzes HBC accounting documents, particularly daybooks, to better understand Indigenous peoples' transactions in the fur trade in the context of environmental change. I focus on northern Great Plains posts to see how, in their trade with Europeans, Indigenous people adapted to climatic changes and resource exhaustion, especially in bison populations, in their economic strategies.

My previous SSHRC-funded research project examined Treaty Trade: how relations between treaty Indians and newcomers were monetized with cash treaty bonuses and annuities. I am particularly interested in comparing changing modes of exchange occuring at sites of the traditional and ongoing fur trade in Western Canada in the period of the Numbered Treaties of the 19th and early 20th century.



Book Chapter

Journal Article


Historical Consultant (trapping, fishing and hunting economies) on the B.C. Hydro-sponsored environmental impact study of the Peace-Athabasca Delta and the community of Fort Chipewyan following the construction of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam: Way of Life Study, 1993-1994.

Specific Claims Analyst and Research for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.


Avie Bennett Historica Canada Public Lecturer, York University, 2019

Eakin Fello, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, 2017

American Society for Ethnohistory’s 2012 Robert F. Heizer Prize

2010 Frederick C. Luebke Award for outstanding regional scholarship, 2010














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