When Qui-Gon Jinn states that the negotiations with the cowardly representatives of the Trade Federation about the blockade of Naboo won’t take long, he can’t be more mistaken. While the situation eventually gets resolved, the blockade of Naboo turns out to be the first of many Sith machinations that would clear a path for the Clone Wars to flourish.
The opening titles of The Phantom Menace describe a greedy Trade Federation blockading the planet Naboo in order to protest against the taxation of trade routes in outlying systems. The first signs of this organization can be found in the preface of the novelization of A New Hope: “Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic.” One of these “organs of commerce” is the Trade Federation which indeed plays an essential part in Darth Sidious’ plan to get elected as Supreme Chancellor of the Republic.
The Trade Federation finds its roots in our own history bearing similarities to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the British East India Company. At the start of the 17th century these two large companies were established by smaller firms to create a big economic power to trade with the East Indies. Just like the Trade Federation, they possessed warships to protect their precious cargoes and they had the authority to wage war, negotiate treaties, and establish their own colonies. The leaders of these companies weren’t that much different from the Neimoidians who ran the Trade Federation. People like Governor Jan Pieterszoon Coen of the VOC thought he didn’t have to answer to anyone to imprint his own views.
Time to meet the representatives of this Trade Federation and some of their mechanical servants!
The Phantom Blockade
When you think of the Trade Federation, you will automatically think of the Neimoidians who run the powerful trade cartel. Although the blockade of Naboo in 32 BBY is secretly directed by Darth Sidious, the Republic identifies Viceroy Nute Gunray as the main culprit of the actions against Naboo. Viceroy Gunray doesn’t dare oppose the Sith Lord, but still he truly believes that the Trade Federation is entitled to occupy Naboo. During the occupation Gunray is defeated by his arch-enemy Padmé Amidala. His grudge against Amidala will run like a leitmotif through the Clone Wars. Eventually it will also be his downfall, as Darth Vader gladly kills Gunray in the Separatist bunker on Mustafar at the very end of the Clone Wars. Second-in-command is Settlement Officer Rune Haako. Haako’s expertise in legal matters makes him more cautious than his superior, but he willingly follows in Gunray’s footsteps and also gets arrested after the forces of the Trade Federation are defeated. Haako often remains close to Gunray during important events such as the Battle of Geonosis and also at the moment of their deaths on Mustafar.
Described by Sidious as a “stunted slime,” Daultay Dofine is the captain of the Lucrehulk-class Battleship Saak’ak during the blockade. After he opposes Sidious, the captain is forbidden to communicate ever again with the Sith Lord. When the invasion of Naboo has been completed, Dofine gets transferred to the Droid Control Ship Vuutun Palaa where he meets his demise when young Anakin Skywalker blows up the ship from the inside. Another Neimoidian crewmember that is involved in the blockade is the female pilot and communications officer Tey How. Along with Lieutenant Sil Unch and Captain Dofine, Commander Tey How gets transferred to the Vuutun Palaa during the occupation of Naboo. Chief Gunner Lieutenant Jull Dremon relays Gunray’s order to blow up the Radiant VII of the Republic ambassadors.
After their successful invasion of Naboo, the Trade Federation establishes an Occupation Council in Theed to maintain control over the city. Besides Gunray and Haako, this Council is led by four high-ranking Neimoidians: Consul Zill Kartay, Magistrate Kund Ekorr, Treasurer Hap Brehg, and Chronicler Viff Almay.
During the invasion, the Senatorial representatives of the Trade Federation do everything they can to slow down any intervention of the Republic. Indeed, the Trade Federation is so powerful that it has been granted its own seat in the Galactic Senate. Senator Lott Dod is assisted by Lufa Danak, a former defense attorney, and Mik Regrap, a female mathematician and his financial advisor. Despite several events during the Clone Wars when his connections to the Confederacy are uncovered, Dod continues to represent the Trade Federation in the Republic Senate. Politicians who crave diplomatic and peaceful solutions allow Dod to stay in office. Dod claims that Nute Gunray and his allies are fanatic members who don’t represent the true word of the Trade Federation.
The Confederacy of Independent Systems
Although the Trade Federation loses a lot of its status after the failed occupation of Naboo, the Republic courts are never truly able to convict the leaders of the Trade Federation. When Count Dooku establishes the Confederacy of Independent Systems, the Trade Federation is one of its original supporting factions, bringing its vast network, powerful warships, and battle droids to the war.
Sib Canay is an influential Neimoidian officer who spearheads the blockade of Pantora. Canay hires bounty hunters to kidnap the daughters of Chairman Baron Papanoida of Pantora in order to put pressure on the Chairman to align his planet with the Confederacy. When the girls are rescued, Canay is exposed by Senator Dod as a Separatist conspirator. Aruteous “Rute” Gunnay is an expert on biochemical warfare who is transferred to Gunray’s staff after escaping Nod Kartha. Gunnay dies along with the other Separatist leaders on Mustafar. Lushros Dofine is the nephew of Daultay and he is the captain of the Invisible Hand during the Battle of Coruscant at the end of the Clone Wars. Dofine doesn’t survive the battle as his escape pod sustains a turbolaser hit.
Not every Neimoidian is a member of the Trade Federation, but some are closely linked to members of the organization. Aito Laff serves as first mate on the Invisible Hand’s main bridge. After escaping the Battle of Coruscant, he oversees logistics in the Confederacy bunker on Mustafar where Darth Vader puts an end to his life. Captain Gap Nox and Lieutenant Fame Drimal are officers of the Neimoidian Gunnery Battalion stationed (and killed) as bodyguards on Mustafar.
Last, but not least, we have two Separatist Neimoidian commanders: Mar Tuuk and Lok Durd. Though Mar Tuuk’s ship, the Procurer, has been a ship of the Trade Federation, it’s uncertain if Mar Tuuk himself ever served in the ranks of the Trade Federation. The same can be said about the weapons developer General Lok Durd.
The Neimoidians can hardly be called the most heroic species in the galaxy, so they were adamant on using droids for all kinds of tasks. The droids include peaceful PK Worker Droids and TC Protocol Droids, but also deadly battle droids, ranging from the massively produced B1 battle droid to droid starfighters.
When Republic ambassadors Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi arrive aboard the Saak’ak, the Neimoidians send in TC-14 to receive the unexpected visitors. The poor droid is unaware of the dioxis gas used by her masters to kill the Jedi. It’s up to battle droid commander OWO-1 and his squad, including SSA-1015, to make sure the Jedi are dead. When B1 battle droids aren’t able to stop the Jedi, the Neimoidians send in droidekas P-59 and P-60. This seems to have the desired effect since Jinn and Kenobi abandon their plan to board the bridge of the Saak’ak. Other droids aboard the ship include the DFS squadron of Vulture-class droid starfighters, with DFS-1015, DFS-1104, DFS-1138 and DFS-1308 being present in the hangar. Several battle droids are destroyed when the Jedi and the Royal Naboo Security Forces escape from Theed. These include 3B3, 3B3-1204 and SSA-306. OOM-9 is the battle droid commander who leads the droid army on Naboo during the Battle of Grassy Plains. Among the ranks of the droid army are 3B3-888 and a B1 bearing the number 1138. Meanwhile, fighting in Theed Palace against Queen Amidala and Captain Panaka are 3B3-10, 3B3-21 and SSA-719.
With the demise of its leaders on Mustafar, the power and influence of the Trade Federation diminishes and the powerhouse is nationalized by the Galactic Empire.
Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium is president and co founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub. He has contributed to Star Wars Insider (Rogues Gallery), is an administrator for Yodapedia and has written four character back stories in ‘What’s the Story?’.
– Decipher’s CCG
– Dressing a Galaxy (Biggar, 2005)
– Star Wars and History (Reagin and Liedl, 2012)
– Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Lucas, 1999)
– Star Wars Episode I: The Visual Dictionary (Reynolds, 1999)
– Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope novel (Foster, 1976)
– Star Wars Insider 147: Rogues Gallery (2013)
– The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia (Fry, 2010)
– The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (2008)