Beavers Wars were a number of wars fought in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Valley. These wars were fought over the control of the lands where beavers and other game animals were abundant. The main combatants in these wars were Native American tribes. However, these tribes were also supported by their European allies. At one side were the Native American tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy. They were backed by the British and Dutch. At the other side were the Algonquian-speaking Native Americans, backed by the French.
Fur trade was a very important economic activity in 17th century North America. Native Americans would hunt game animals, extract their pelts and then trade these pelts with the Europeans. French, British and Dutch competed against each other to get these pelts and have the alliance of the tribes offering these. Iroquois Confederacy was a powerful group of Native American tribes in eastern North America at the time. They decided to fight the Huron people and push them out of their lands which were rich in fur trade.
By 1629, the beaver population in the Iroquois territories had almost finished due to excessive hunting. The Iroquois then decided to fight and conquer the neighboring Native American tribes. In doing so, they used the firearms they had acquired by trading pelts with the Dutch. These firearms proved instrumental in helping them win decisive victories against their neighboring tribes.
The Beaver Wars began in 1629. They continued for almost three-quarters of a century and ended only in the beginning of the 18th century.
The Iroquois were the main fighting force in the Beaver Wars. They comprised of five powerful Native Americans nations, the most notable being the Mohawk. Others included Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca and Onondaga. Iroquois were chiefly supported by the Dutch and directly received a large number of firearms from them.
They used these weapons to attack and conquer many large Native American tribes including Huron, Erie, Neutral and Susquehannock. These tribes were defeated, their lands conquered by the Iroquois and their populations absorbed into the Iroquois population. Beaver Wars resulted in the elimination of a large number of Native American tribes.
The Dutch were the main European ally of the Iroquois in the Beaver Wars. In 1664, British forces took over the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. This ended the crucial Dutch support for the Iroquois. At the same time, the British colonies along the eastern coast began to expand and grew powerful. Both factors reduced the power of the Iroquois. Ultimately, the Iroquois didn’t suffer any notable defeat by their Native American rivals but had to submit to the growing might of European colonists.
The long and protracted conflict known as the Beaver Wars resulted and many powerful and important Native American tribes. It greatly expanded the influence and power of the Iroquois. Later, the British colonies would use the help of the powerful Iroquois in their wars with the French colonists.
The Beaver Wars Paperback – March 22, 2017