Interactions Between English and Native Americans
Members of each nation copied relationships with Indians in many different ways. Few Europeans considered Native Americans as equals, because of differences in religion, agricultural practice, housing, dress, and other characteristics. However, the French, Spanish, and Dutch sought profit through trade and exploitation of New World resources, and they knew that the native people would be important to their success. Europeans also wanted to convert Native Americans to Christianity. So, economic gain and religion were the two factors that most affected the dynamics of European and indigenous American relationships.
Spain, the most powerful monarchy in Europe and the Americas, wished to enrich themselves with the New World’s natural resources. After enslaving indigenous peoples in the Caribbean and the southern parts of the Americas to grow crops and mine for gold, silver, and other valuables, the Spanish moved into North America where they concentrated their efforts in what is now the southwestern and southeastern United States. But even the most cooperative Indians continued to maintain their own religious and cultural traditions, and many priests concluded that the Indians were inferior and incapable of understanding Christianity. Indigenous populations declined over the seventeenth century as epidemics brought by the Spanish killed large numbers of natives.
Like the Spanish colonies in North America, New France did not attract many French settlers. Instead of enslaving Native Americans in farming and mining operations, the French exploited existing inter-tribal alliances and rivalries to establish trade relationships with the Huron, Montagnais, and Algonquins along the St. Lawrence River and further inland toward the Great Lakes. French traders exchanged textiles, weapons, and metal goods for the furs of animals such as beavers, bears, and wolves. In the eighteenth century, the Dutch and English...
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