Captivity in a variety of forms frequently punctuated culture encounters in the early modern Pacific world. In few places was captivity more common than on the Northwest Coast, where a lively fur trade brought indigenous communities together with European and American traders. Between 1789 and 1792, the taking of captives and exchange of hostages was a strategy used to advantage by both native peoples and foreign ship crews. The captivity account of John Jewitt, 1803-1805, illustrates both the changing dynamics of the trade and of growing language vehicles of communication. The captivity accounts by both native and Russian chroniclers of the 1808-1810 Sv. Nikolai survivors demonstrate the complex motives and internal divisions among both elements. All of these cases draw attention to how many of the actors in the cultural contacts in the East Pacific Basin were "unfree," challenged in their status, and driven by competition in a short-lived market.

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