How did the fur trade affect northeastern Native Americans?

Some of the trade goods Native Americans received from Europeans made their work easier and their lives more comfortable.

But the fur trade’s bad effects far outweighed the good. As Native Americans became involved in the fur trade, their way of life, if not their lives themselves, were often threatened.

One tragic effect of the fur trade was exposure to European diseases. Through contact with traders, Native Americans caught smallpox, measles, and other diseases that were new to North America. Because they had no natural immunities to them, these foreign diseases killed thousands of northeastern Native Americans.

Because of the fur trade, Native American men also began spending more time hunting than ever before. In addition to wiping out entire animal populations, overhunting gave Native Americans far less time to make the tools, utensils, and clothing they needed. They instead began to rely on European traders for these items.

This dependence on European goods gave Europeans control over Native Americans peoples. For instance, the French might demand that their Native American trading partners help fight their British competitors. The Native Americans had to do as the French asked, or the French might cut off their supply of goods.

This type of warfare often pitted Native Americans allied to one group of Europeans against Native Americans allied to another.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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