First Nations and their interactions with Europe
The first topic of immense historical importance after the establishment of the initial trade relations between the peoples of the First Nations and the Europeans in the purview of this paper is selected to be the introduction of guns and horses to the lands of the first nations. This forms a significant step in the metamorphosis that the First Nations went through as they engaged into trade activities with the Europeans.
Horses were first introduced to the First Nations as the Spanish brought horses to Mexico around the year 1730, when it found its use and utility spread to the regions of the Blackfoot. The impact that the introduction of horses had on Blackfoot was immense. Horses adopted by warriors of the First Nations had to rely solely on their running ability to lure animals into Buffalo pounds or buffalo jumps. Another advantage the Horse provided was the ability to charge close to an animal within a herd and hunt it from a very close range. Furthermore, the speed, obedience, agility and stability of horses over the terrain of the territory of the Blackfoot made them a preferable choice of animal for domestication (Kendal, 2014). The horse almost provided them with a seemingly evolutionary leap made available to them through the Europeans and this newfound mobility granted more mobility to war parties too which made the warrior groups of the First Nations such as “the Blackfoot and the Sioux” even stronger, increasing the potential for conflict.
Another event of immense impact in making the lives of the people of the First Nations easier while also bringing them closer to impending conflict was the introduction of guns. The First Nations came into contact with guns when the English traders brought it with them to Hudson Bay which is also when the gun also reached the plains. Initially, the people of plains found guns to be cumbersome in the applications that could make their lives easier, such as hunting. Guns could not match the ability to strike silently like arrows and could startle entire herds without even a hit. However, their value was released in the battlefields where noise was not a matter of concern but the killing blow was. The bullets from a gun could travel faster and farther than a bow and caused wounds more fatal than those caused by a bow consistently (Sheptycki, 2009). This increased firepower allowed First Nations such as the Chipewyan to overwhelm the forces of the Inuits. This could be seen as another seemingly evolutionary leap that entirely changed the tide of the First Nations hunting grounds and battlegrounds.
The third phenomenon of historical importance for the consideration of this paper is the increasing significance of Aboriginal women in the purview of fur trade. This presents a different outlook into the role that women played within the first nations as their roles became widely diverse as they took on roles of “partners, guides, interpreters, diplomats and scouts”. Matrimonial relations among the Aboriginal women and the European settlers led to the creation of the Metis people (Anderson, 2013). The emergence of the Metis people was a significant phase in the history of the first nations. The first nations had already seen much of their territory diminish as their relations with the Europeans flourished as a result of their involvement in trade. Especially in the fur trade, the employment of natives of the first nations was evidence of the reliance that the European settlers had on the people of the first nations. In many cases these tribesmen served as the middle-man between the European merchants and the hunters who procured the furs. However, within the Metis, the European settlers found a more suitable person for the job of the middle-man as these people were descendants of Europeans and Aboriginal natives, which made them averse to local customs while also having better connection with the communities of European settlers.
To conclude, these three events offer an outlook where the initial lives of the people of the First Nations were changed beyond recognition in many different ways. The debate and the essential question, despite the progress that the nations have made today, is whether the course of greed as a result of the trade has led to the holistic development of the nation as the world knows it today.