How did trading with the Europeans change native life for the Inuit?

Aside from new trade goods, non-Native traders brought with them European diseases.

Like other native populations, the Inuit suffered many deaths because of these foreign germs. Others were killed in violent encounters with non-natives. The Aleut were particularly threatened by the Russian traders who came to their lands in the 1740s.

Over time, trading with non-Natives also began to change where the Inuit lived and how they spent their time. Many left their old communities to move nearer to trading posts and began hunting more and more to have something to trade. They also started hunting whatever animal would bring the best price.

For instance, in the nineteenth century, whale hunting increased because whites wanted baleen, the jawbone of the bowhead whale, which they used to make umbrella ribs, mattresses, and buggy whips.

As a result, the Inuit overhunted whales, and many natives plunged into poverty whenever the price of baleen fell.

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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