The French and the English would arrive after the Spanish had already begun their conquest of the West. However, the experiences and goals of these two nations would be very different from each other.
The French came to the west seeking gold and the opportunity for trade, especially trading of furs. Jacques Cartier, with the backing of the French King Francis I, sailed up the Saint Lawrence valley in search of the Northwest passage, hoping to find land where he could gain large amounts of gold.
During his travels he encountered Indians and discovered they were excited and enthusiastic about trade. Indians found the small, insignificant trinkets created by the French to be very helpful, and advantageous when performing menial tasks. In return for trading these small trinkets to the Indians, the French gained valuable furs. Animals furs were of great importance to Europeans because “…in Europe only nobles and priests had the right to wear ermine, sable, and other luxurious furs, but the demand for other pelts for winter wear was strong” (Hine, 43). Due to the great need and desire for trade with the Indians, the French felt it very important to maintain good relations with the Natives.
The French would live side by side with the Natives, embracing their culture and showing respect. “The French built their North American empire on furs, rivers, and relationships” (Hine, 47), by keeping close bonds with the Indians it allowed the furs to continue making their way to French hands. In order to keep close relations with the Natives the French embraced the Native American culture through many ways.
They would learn Indian beliefs and immerse themselves directly into the culture. Samuel de Champlain would send some of his agents and traders to speak with Indian villages, negotiating peace. Many of these agents and traders would decide to stay and live in the villages, some of them even married Indian women. Feelings were mutual on both sides, and they lived and worked peacefully, “Indians absorbed European technology and material culture while French traders- the coureurs de bois, or runners of the woods- adopted many of the Indians’ lifeways” (Haine, 47).
The English treated the New World far more differently than the French. Queen Elizabeth first sent privateers to steal Indian treasure from the Spanish, and with their return the Queen decided it was time for the English to make their mark on the New Word. The Queen had desired to gain large amounts of land to use for colonization and wished to search for treasures. Sir Walter Raleigh would travel to the New World in 1585 and create a colony in Virginia. These colonists would come in contact with Indians, but instead of treating the Indians the way the French did, the English acted more like the Spanish.
These colonists “…proved incapable of supporting themselves, preferring to hunt for precious metals or raid nearby villages for treasure…” (Haine, 55). Since colonists were unable to support themselves, they relied on food and other necessities from Indians, but once the Indians had run out of supplies the colony would kill them, “At first chief Wingina fed them, but when his stores grew short, the colonists took their sustenance by force, beheading Wingina and killing several of his captains” (Haine, 55).
Natives soon began to see the English as threats and felt that they were no different than the Spanish. One Indian chief stated, “your coming is not for trade, but to invade my people and possess my country” (Haine, 57). Due to their treatment of the Native Americans, and their constant seizure of land, tensions would come to a head and the English would face of in a war against the Indians, this war became known as “King Philip’s War”. By the end of the war, hardly any Indians remained in the area, allowing the English to claim more land, at the cost of the loss of lives for both sides. The English would continue to keep their distance from Indians, not immersing themselves in their culture, or making them to be allies.
The French and English both entered the fray of the New World, hoping to leave their mark and find their claim to riches. Both sides were very different in their goals and experiences, the English being more indifferent by attempting to completely keep their distance from Indians, “In contrast to the Spanish and French, who built societies based on the inclusion of Indian people, the English established a frontier of exclusion, consigning Indians to the periphery rather than incorporating within colonial society” (Haine, 59).