The Great Impact of European Trade
With the discovery of the New World and availability of natural resources, many new relationships, both personal and business in nature, formed between the Europeans and Native Americans around the 1500’s. What seemed to be the start of a profitable and positive adventure for the Indians eventually proved to be more of a detrimental endeavor.
In the beginning, good relations became a positive thing. By providing the Europeans with the goods they desired, mainly animal furs and skins, this “protected them for a time from the kind of extermination, enslavement, or displacement that was the fate of native people in Portuguese Brazil” (Strayer, 687). Also by being a link in the “commodity chain”, this helped to strengthen ties with neighboring tribes and form certain alliances.
As early as the 1600’s, we began to see the negative influences of the European migration into the New World. Many Indians became plagued with diseases such as influenza and smallpox which caused around half of the Native Americans to perish and this resulted in a drastic decrease in the Indian population. The ones that did survive sickness eventually became dependent on trade goods from the Europeans such as colorful cloth, weapons, and tools causing the American Indian culture and traditions to die out and become extinct. Many Indians also became addicted to alcohol, for example whiskey, that was introduced to them by the Europeans which in result caused health, social, and family problems among the close knit tribes.
The native’s main goal became to obtain vast amounts of trade goods. Over time, the Indians became so obsessed with objects such as copper pots, metal axes, and knives that they gave up more and more of their own culture. The imported goods from Europe had replaced the things the Indians had formerly made using the resources available in their own environment. In order obtain this, they trapped and killed deer, bear,...