Trade, Slavery & Colonization in the Americas

Learning Goals:
1. Analyze effects of colonialism on trade and conflict
2. Analyze roots of current regional, cultural and social issues in Canada

 Indigenous People of the Fur Trade

By Fiona

The Fur trade started in the 1500s, it started after the French offered the natives Kettles, metal knives, and other gifts. Although because of the fur trade over half of the Native population died because of European spread diseases. Compared between the overall health of natives and Europeans, Natives were much healthier. Natives had better diets that led them less likely to starve, and they didn’t have any infectious diseases until the Europeans came. Bubonic plague, chicken pox, pneumonic plague, cholera, diphtheria, influenza, measles, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, and whooping cough were all diseases spread from Europe to North America. Small pox killed the most, then measles, influenza, then bubonic plague.

Because the fur trade was all about competition there were many wars. One of the most popular was the war between the Huron and the French/Iroquois in the 1600s. The Huron people were ignored when they told the French they wanted more land. In 1609 they declared war but they were scared of the French’s guns and they backed down. In 1620 French tried to convert the Huron people to Christianity and they were very mad. They had many wars until they made a peace treaty in 1653 but it ended in 1658. Later on in the Fur trade European people started threatening, getting violent, and even taking slaves from the Haida and Nuuchahhulth people. Maquinna was the very first Indigenous person to ever take a white man for a slave. Maquinna and his men attacked a European ship and took 19 year old black smith, John Jewitt and the sail maker John Tompson. He took advantage of their talents and he made Jewitt make him weapons and Tompson sails for his canoes. In 1805 John Jewitt was rescued and he published his journal called “the armorers escape.”

The fur trade was the time when native people changed the most, at first when the European came the Natives were happy to trade with them. Natives and Fur traders worked together for a long time. The Natives would get the fur for the traders and in return they would trade them metal, pots, beads, axe heads, needles, muskets, and cloth. During wars alliances between Natives and Europeans were very beneficial because the Natives knew all the water ways and travel routes, and also medicine that saved lives. So in return the European people would give them trading goods. At the beginning of the Fur trade when many Aboriginal people couldn’t speak English lots of them would become interpreters for the Europeans and the Aboriginal people that didn’t want to be in direct contact with the traders. The natives that lived closest to the trading posts changed the most because they trapped the fur and also supplied food for the Europeans in the winter. Without them the Europeans might not have even survived through winter, they also helped them with getting the right prices for the fur. The traders wanted the best deal but the Aboriginal people knew how much the fur was worth and helped them.

equitable trade

These two pictures both come from they show how the Indigenous people and the Europeans traded together in peace at the beginning of the fur trade.



Baldwin, Douglas. New France and the Fur Trade. Calgary: Weigl Educational, 2003. Print.

Cranny, Michael William. Crossroads: A Meeting of Nations. Scarborough, Ont.: Prentice Hall Ginn Canada, 1998. Print.

“First Peoples of Canada Before Contact Menu.” First Peoples of Canada Before Contact Menu. N.p., 23 June 2006. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.

“Native American Netroots.” Native American Netroots. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.

Reksten, Terry. The Illustrated History of British Columbia. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2001. Print.

Roberts, John A., Fredrick C. Sproule, and Randy Montgomery. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples: Exploring Their Past, Present, and Future. Toronto: Emond Montgomery Publications, 2006. Print




The Fur Trade and Economic Imperialism
by Kaitlyn

Who was involved in the Fur Trade?                                                                   There were two main groups of people involved in the fur trade; the first group was the First Nations. They were active traders and had established trade routes and alliances throughout North America way before the Europeans came in to trade. The second group was the European traders; they later came to trade with the First Nations. They decided to trade with the First Nations because the whole new rage in Europe was beaver hats. They didn’t have any beaver where they lived so they travelled to where the First Nations were to trade with them.

The Terms of Trade
Before the Europeans and First Nations started trading the First Nations never regarded  beaver fur as currency. The Europeans saw this fur as a valuable commodity in making particular kinds of felted hats.  At first the Europeans traded with the First Nations for items they both wanted equally: they traded furs for pots, knives, and other metal items. Once the First Nations started realizing that the furs were worth a lot more to the Europeans than they were getting for them they started asking for more. The beaver hats were very high in price and only the rich could afford to buy them.

Consequences of Economic Imperialism
Before everyone wanted beaver hats, there were over 10 million beavers in North America but they almost became extinct because of the excessive amount of people wanting beaver fur hats. Later on during the fur trade many new European traders came, and as beavers became harder to find, they started controlling the trade with Aboriginal peoples to their own advantage. Many wars have been fought because of the fur trade. As the fur trade wound down, Europeans became not only economic imperialists, but colonists as well. They wanted to take land from the First Nations and use it for themselves.

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