- Briefly discuss the impact of guns on power relations and hunting practices.
Answer: Indigenous power was deeply affected by the appearance and availability of guns. By the mid-eighteenth century, the Nehiyaw were armed and established on the Saskatchewan River. The fact that they were armed gave a larger advantage than having a horse. This advantage was felt in both warfare and hunting practices. The Shoshone, who had been in power on the Plains until then, could not access firearms quickly enough because of various events including the Seven Years’ War and the disappearance of France as a power. These factors combined with epidemics meant that, by the end of the eighteenth century, the Shoshone were pushed off the northern plains and ceded their position to the Niitsitapiikwan Confederacy, (in particular, the Siksikawa and the Piikani, who were the primary confederate bands involved).
- Discuss the impact of the horse on Plains culture and relationships.
Answer: The Shoshone appear to have been the first group of Indigenous Peoples to acquire horses on the northwestern plains. On the southern plains, mounted warfare and the adoption of buffalo hunting on horseback were techniques developed by the Apache over time. Buffalo hunting on horseback subsequently induced some groups from the parklands to give up sedentary agriculture. As running bison on horseback became a favored technique, buffalo jumps also fell into disuse.
Horse raiding became a favourite activity and horses became a symbol of warrior status. Horse raids were carried out against enemies, thus becoming acts of war and not just theft. With this came changes to social conventions and contrary to long-held beliefs about animal ownership, practices of excess grew; among the Piikani, some individuals were known to have up to 300 horses. Finally, the acquisition of horses had also greatly altered trade routes.
- Describe some of the main differences between the impact of trade on the Pacific coast and the Atlantic coast.
Answer: The first trading ship did not arrive on the Northwest Coast until 1785, and it was a British ship. For the next 40 years, a variety of vessels from different nations traded in the region. Many only made one visit, and by 1825, the sea otters were already disappearing. Trade in Acadia and the Gulf of St Lawrence lasted over a century and was not subject to the variety of traders that frequented the West Coast. Despite those differences, trade on both coasts depended on Indigenous trappers and had the same effect in terms of decimating Indigenous populations through disease.