The Dutch, Spanish, English, and French widely distributed European glass trade beads and exchanged them for desired items, needed services, and slaves in the lands bordering the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
The Spanish mission period in Florida (1633–1704) and the late seventeenth-century to eighteenth-century fur trade of northwestern North America are notable examples.
The people of the northeastern United States and the Midwest already were decorating their leather clothing and accessories with dyed porcupine quills.
Compared with beadwork, quill work is very time consuming and tedious.
History of Beadwork One of the best known art forms practiced by American Indians is beadwork.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, native populations of North America created their own beads.
It was not until the arrival of trade beads from Europe that the Indians could obtain small beads in sufficient quantities to make the beaded designs we know today.
This is not to say that beadwork emerged on the scene without a precedent.
During the last five centuries, European trade beads markedly influenced political economies at multiple scales.Columbus introduced glass trade beads to the New World, and the Portuguese introduced later European beads to much of sub-Saharan Africa, beginning with coastal regions in West Africa.