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American Indian Relationships with the English and French

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Relations between the American Indians and the English were much more hostile than those between the American Indians and the French. Firstly, the French treated the American Indians with respect on all accounts of their culture. Secondly, the English showed no mercy or reason to American Indians occupying native land. Lastly, instead of attempting to take advantage of the indigenous people of North America, the French established trade relationships. For nearly the entire colonization period, the French remained allied with the American Indians. The reasoning for the constant peace between the two peoples was the mutual respect shared between them. One account of this coexistence is that of Jean Nicolet’s recorded by Paul Radin in “Account of the First Contact of the Ho¬Chunk (Winnebago)”.

In the document, Jean talks about the various trade that took place between them such as “Furs for guns, knives, and axes”(Nicolet 1). The French always demonstrated an excess of respect towards the morals of the American Indians, resulting in a strong founded alliance. Not all European¬American Indian relations were peaceful. In fact, the relationship between the English and American Indians was for the most part, a violent one. Unlike the French, the English had little respect for the Indian way of life in North America.

In most instances recorded, the English showed little to no mercy regarding seizure of land and resources. Dr. Gabrielle Tayac explains in Colonial Indian¬White Relations document ”Native people sometimes left their villages to hunt, fish, or gather resources.

Frequently, they returned to their villages only to find the land occupied by colonists”(Tayac 1). From this, “A series of wars started in the Chesapeake Bay region that continued through the seventeenth century”(Tayac 1). Most English¬American Indian relations went violently and without respect. The French were very successful in establishing trade relations with American Indians to get what they wanted. Unlike the English who Tricked and pillaged American Indians out of their land, the French used methods of respectful trading and negotiations to gain land and goods. Ellen Holmes, an associate professor at the UNCA describes the French¬Indian relationship “ Instead of enslaving Native Americans in farming and mining operations, the French exploited existing inter¬tribal alliances and rivalries to establish trade relationships with the Huron, Montagnais, and Algonquins along the St. Lawrence River and further inland toward the Great Lakes.”(Holmes 1). Instead of enslaving Native Americans, the French took advantage of trade relationships they had mutually established to propel their own colonial development. American Indian relationships with the English and French varied greatly.

The French treated the indians with more respect, the English showed no mercy while stealing land, and the French exploited trade relationships to gain land. One counterclaim that could be made about the peaceful relationship between the French and the American indians is that of the French victory at Fort William Henry in 1757 .

Nearly 1,800 Indian warriors fought alongside the French without pay, hoping to receive compensation from booty, captures, and scalps. According to the National Park Service educational kit The French and Indians “When the British surrendered Fort William Henry Montcalm did not consult his Indian allies when he drew up the surrender terms. The surrender terms denied the warriors the plunder they had fought for.”(NPS 2). From this came an inevitable separation between the French and Indians. However all in all over the course of the colonial period, relations between the American Indians and French were constantly more peaceful than that of the English.

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