The Fur Trade

Much of the early conflict over this area had to do with the fur trade. For example, the Five Tribes of the Iroquois (Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida, and Seneca) began trading beaver furs to the French in exchange for metal axes and knives, brass cooking pots, wool blankets, guns, gunpowder, lead, and liquor. The goods were so beneficial to the Iroquois’ life that they had hunted down most of the beaver in central New York by the 1640s. Between 1649 and 1654, they used their new weapons to fight and win the Beaver Wars against the Erie Indians.

The Iroquois who then settled in the northeast of the Ohio Country became known as the Mingo. Their Beaver Wars initiated 100 years of complex negotiations, shifting alliances, mutually beneficial trade relations, and vicious warfare among all the tribes of the Middle Ground, which became home to the Wyandot (north), Delaware (southeast), Shawnee (south), Miami (west), and Ottawa (northwest).

By the 1750s, cheaper goods, which were easier to supply from the British colonies, coupled with British successes during King George’s War, had diminished the appeal of French goods and led most of the Ohio Country native peoples to become British allies. In response, Canadian governor Marquis de la Galissoni¨re sent an expedition under Pierre-Joseph de Cloron de Blainville to expel the British and chastise the natives. Cloron’s men and native allies burned the Miami trading town of Pickawillany, killing women, children, and British traders and also brutally murdering Pianguisha, a Miami leader also known as Old Briton or La Demoiselle.

When the British did not offer protection to their Native American allies, the Miami, Delaware, and Shawnee returned to their old French allegiances. Events like these convinced the Ohio Country natives that both the French and the English cared more about controlling the land than about honoring their agreements.

The Fur Trade Photo Gallery

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