Economic Benefit to Native Americans

Categories: Whaling

What will be discussed is how the Native Americans gained economically through iron technology to help improve production and the ability to have more access to European goods. The European fur trade gave the Native Americans gains through population growth, growth of the economy, and gave the Native Americans problems with starvation due to lack of resources. The European Fur Trade had positive effects on the Indian society due to competition in order to get their resources. The trade also caused tensions inland in the Hudson’s Bay due to conflicts over the Indians natural resources.

The European Fur Trade made the Natives economy improve as well as make the Natives population decrease then increase.

The Hudson’s Bay was one factor of how the Native Americans caused competition with the British and French economy and caused more demand for Native products which resulted in loss of Native American resources. Fur was traded from the St Lawrence River or from the Hudson’s Bay to be made into hats.

The French had set up the Hudson’s Bay Company, which formed a monopoly, and moved it beyond the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers. The French set up posts for the Natives Americans to come to the posts to trade fur.

The Hudson’s Bay Company was a monopoly until more fur trades occurred that caused competition between the Native Americans, and “A higher European price increased the wedge between the price the French marchands received for their furs and the price paid to the Indians in terms of trade good” (Carlos and Lewis) and this can be shown as the average price for the French had better market penetration because the Natives were able to move further inland for profit to sell the Indians.

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However, the Hudson’s Bay Company caused more competition by paying less to the Natives which would make the French lose market money because they were jointly owned with the French.

The prices that were seen by the Hudson’s Bay company show that the company was looking to close an optimal strategy that meant that the prices should be set to yield with a maximum sustained yield beaver population. A reason is that the price difference between the European and North American price was different because for the same European price with the presence of French traders because “for the same European price, the profit-maximizing price at the company post was higher than in the pure monopsony case, and the beaver stock was lower” according to (Carlos and Lewis) who were scholars who published in the Canadian Economic association who are credible by being approved by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. It can be shown how the beaver stock was lower because Native Americans produced fewer beaver stocks in the long run and more in the long run.

This is supported based on when the Hudson’s Bay Company determined the size and amount of harvests through the price as well as “any lowering of that price advances the French trade and reduces the company’s share of the total harvest”. To avoid this loss of market share the company pays the Indians a higher price than in the monopsony case, which leads to a smaller beaver population” (Carlos and Lewis, Pg. 719). The demand for fur increased because the French were able to compete was caused by the French being able to sell the fur two or three times the value in London because it was highly demanded. This shows how the Natives benefitted through more goods and services through the economy because of the amount of money the Natives got in exchange for their fur, which will be shown further on with how the Native Americans benefitted from fur trade as well as they got hurt.

Not only was fur traded, but the Natives and the Europeans did trade with fish as well. Ships came in the northeastern part of the Atlantic. Other Europeans such as the British, Spaniards, and Portuguese shipped vessels of fish. This shows that the Natives were impacted through goods and services as well when the Natives the fish. This can be especially shown when “between 180 and 1600, 22 Basque ships sailed from St. Jean de Luz and Ciboure to North America.

The peak years were 1584-1587, when IS ships were outfitted” according to William and Mary Quarterly. The point of these ships was for fur trades and whaling. The fish helped the Native economy increase as well. Evidence for this can be shown on Table III in William and Mary Quarterly’s article when they show the number of whales, and codfish species hat were done each year from 1544 to 1605, and there was increases overall in the amount of species in the St. Lawrence River, then the number of species of fish decreased. The Natives benefitted from fish during this fur trade because the supplies were depended on Native sources, and the Basque had gotten products from the Natives such as deer hides, sea-lion skins in the Strait of Belle Isle.

One other way that the Native Americans benefited during the fur trade was with the Basque as well was getting trade with kettles. Historical evidence was shown that there was many axes, knives, swords, and other ironware found. This shows that these objects were common and were found at “Micmac sites.” It was shown that the biggest item that was trades during the European Fur Trade was the beaver and was the most profitable for the Basque. Exchanges were completed between the French and brought a lot of fur that included buffalo hides as well as beaver hides back to Paris which helped the European Fur Trade expand more for the Native Americans.

The Fur trades and other products helped the Native Americans boost their economy. The Natives got money back for goods such as beaver skins, badger, mink, and many other furs, and they carried these over the river with canoes. The Native Americans benefitted greatly from selling beaver hats to the British.

The demand for beaver hats was increasing throughout Europe and not just England. Many of these beaver hats were imported to different parts of Europe, and many people wanted the Native goods. The demand for beaver pelts increased after 1750 because there was a higher demand for beaver hats which increased the price. Many Native Americans relied too much on the fur, and those who couldn’t sell fur ended up with starvation. The reason is without the ammunition, food, and traps given by the French, the Natives could not hunt. Native Americans were known to be lazier according to Carlos and Lewis because the Natives had a fixed view on the economy because they felt at higher prices, they felt that they could sell less furs if they sold each one at a higher price.

The Natives were not happy with working less because they could sell their fur for more money but decided to work hard in order to keep their economy strong. It was shown that hunting, gathering, agriculture, and food preparation made about 75% to 80% of Native labor during this time period. The fur trade helped the Native Americans get more advanced products such as kettles, ammunition, household items, blankets, guns, that helped the Natives advance economically through the French Fur trade. This fur trade helped the Native Americans be able to choose how they work, where they chose to live, and how they chose to benefit from their resources. The Europeans helped the Native Americans a lot with their economy even though the Natives weren’t a large part of the European economy.

The European fur trade caused the Native Americans population to increase while in other ways it decreased. The Native American population increased using more natural resources that can be shown through the Menominee, Winnebago, Sauk, and Fox. The Menominee shows a population increase can be shown based on Table 2 when the population increased during 1668 to 1836 with an estimate of 160 to 4200 (Kay, Pg. 276), and is consistent with the other four tribes. The reason for this population growth was that “If the earliest population estimates are trust worthy, the Fox, Sauk, and Winnebago never regained their pre-contact numbers. The negative impacts of European American contact, however, coupled with insufficient time for the tribes to recoup initial losses, could best be interpreted as drags on rapid population growth, rather than as sure indices of population decline.” The Native Americans were able to recover from the diseases because it occurred after the post contact with the Europeans, and this showed how much the influence of the Europeans had on the whites. After the 1800’s it was shown to why the Natives had little diseases after the fur trade.

Even though the beaver skins were decreased a lot, the Natives had become a more dependent trading post and hunted and fished more extensively as more villages were being formed between the four tribes. The fur trade also benefitted the Natives in which they could learn to develop little used resource and learned to use food to prevent starvation. What will be discussed is how the Natives suffered from the Europeans Presence.

One big factor to this was due to the Europeans bringing over smallpox. Another way that the Native American population decreased was due to European alcohol, technology and “value systems” according to Kay. Warfare was a large due to deaths, and a 1762 incident caused around six-sevenths to be killed. Another reason for deaths was the impact the Europeans had on wildlife, and destruction of the natural resources. Also, there British blockages that forced the Natives to have starvation when food wouldn’t come for weeks in Wisconsin.

The Native Americans could not hunt and trap if there was no wildlife to hunt. Animals that were killed by the Europeans were the Buffalo and Bison which was detrimental to the tribes. Unfortunately, this caused a lot of starvation for the tribes, and the tribes got their fields burned as well. The population trends were shown to decrease in four tribes that were studied that includes the Winnebago, Fox, Sauk, and Menominee tribes. The Native Americans suffered a lot during the French Fur trade, and the deaths continued due to the Europeans. In 1832 the Sauk War killed around 300 Sauk Indians that showed the effect of the fur trade in relation to how devasting the trade was which was several examples of how the Natives suffered during the fur trade. Even though there were economic advantages, the European Fur trade provided the Natives with deadly consequences as well.

Overall, the European Fur Trade had positives on the Native Americans economically. The Natives struggled at first with diseases, starvation, but the Native Americans learned to survive more and be more stable when they learned to use their resources effectively. The tensions between the British and the French helped the Native economy improve, and the demand for fur helped as well. All in all, the Native Americans both gained economically and a more developed future.

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Economic Benefit to Native Americans. (2022, May 02). Retrieved from

Economic Benefit to Native Americans
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