Fur trade had a significant influence on the transcontinental relationship between Europe and America. This connection has changed basic principles of life and religion of the Native people, and even their living conditions have modified. It was also the first step in the creation of the stable economic system of the future USA and Canada. With the growth of the fur trade, some new ways of their development have defined. Fur trade excited the investigation of the vast spaces of the new homeland.
Fur trade was a necessity or vitally important task for colonists, so it took a great part of their lives and result in the invention of trade barter. The first mentions of the fur trade found in the old documents, which are dated back to the 16 century. Colonists were so-called explorers, who settled on a new continent. They didn’t maintain a lot of skills in hunting or fishing, but they had a supply of goods. So at that time there were all preconditions for the development of the commodity circulation between Native people and colonists.
Opinions about the consequences of the fur trade for the Native people are ambiguous, you can decide this for yourself, and I will only list facts. The nomadic movement of native people modified, because the location of English trading posts implied them to travel long distances to deliver the furs. French had another tactics; they went into native lands, where they often create families by taking native wives and, as a result, the new Metis (mixed people) appeared. Most of their time Native people spent hunting for the fur trade, so they had the lack of time to prepare food for their own families and as years go by they became more and more dependent on the European food.
I suppose; that Native people benefitted most in the short term, but in the long term colonists turned it to their advantage. Native hunters received all they need and even more, for instance, some unknown instruments such as metal knives or other implements for hunting. Also, they got European food, comfortable clothes and useful knowledge, brought by civilization. Colonists at the same time had a period of adaptation to the new conditions. They discovered a lot of unfamiliar animals, plants and nationalities. European settlers learned to dress and sew together pelts, to hunt and save valuable fur from destructions and deformations. It was a level of preparation, of accumulation of the long experience of Native people, before they made a great break, took the lead and redistributed the power of those times world.
All in all, fur trade was a turning point not only in the political, but also in the economical development of the New World. It was the beginning of the formation of the new countries. Fur trade played an essential role in the further relationship between Native people and colonists and had both advantages and disadvantages in the long and short terms. The industry of the fur trade changed the natural environment by transforming the inner connections between people and nature. Fur trade stimulated the exploration of unknown regions and provided the settlers with necessary products, gave the source of prosperity and income.
- Veale, Elena. The English Fur Trade in the Later Middle Ages. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), 172-175.