Why was contact with non-Native Americans good for Northwest Native Americans?

At first, Native Americans welcomed non-Native Americans into their lands. They liked the new goods traders offered, and traders, eager just to do business, did not try to hurt them, change their ways, or take their lands.

By the early 1800s, however, the situation began to change. The fur trade fell on hard times because Native Americans had killed so many seals that few were left to hunt.

Native American villages also began suffering from new diseases, such as smallpox, that were introduced to them by the foreign traders. Waves of epidemics killed many Native Americans. Among the Chinook, for instance, the number of tribe members dropped by half between 1805 and 1851.

Beginning in the 1830s, the Native Americans in present-day Oregon and Washington also faced a new threat: American settlers. The settlers wanted to take control of these Native Americans’ land because the fertile coastal region made excellent farmland.