Beaver Wars

Iroquois Warriors - Beaver Wars

Beaver Wars Summary and Definition

Beaver Wars Summary and Definition: The Beaver Wars (1640 - 1701), also called the French and Iroquois Wars, were terrifying and brutal wars fought by tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy against the French and the Indian tribes who were their allies, including the Huron, Algonquins and the Mohicans.

The Iroquois Confederacy, and in particular the Mohawk tribe, had established trading links with Dutch exchanging beaver pelts for guns. The Iroquois Confederacy wanted to extend their trading activity and gain new territories. A series of bloody battles led to the Iroquois League destroying several large tribes including the Hurons, Eries and Susquehannocks.

Beaver Wars The Iroquois Confederacy
The Iroquois Confederacy was a powerful  confederation of Native American Indians which was originally composed of 5 tribes consisting of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca people who inhabited the Great Lakes area, as seen in the above map. The tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy went on to fight in the French and Indian Wars as allies of the British.

Facts about the Beaver Wars
Who fought in the Beaver Wars? When did the conflict start and when did the conflict end? What were the causes of the Beaver Wars? What was the significance of the Beaver Wars? What were the results and effects of the Beaver Wars? Interesting history and facts about the Beaver Wars:

Name of Conflict: Beaver Wars
Alternative Names: The French and Iroquois Wars or the Iroquois Wars
Location of Beaver Wars: Great Lakes area
Year Beaver Wars started: 1640
Year Beaver Wars ended: 1701
Combatants of Beaver Wars: Iroquois Confederacy and the French. The Iroquois Confederacy was between an alliance of tribes headed by the Onondaga, Cayuga, Mohawk, Seneca and the Oneida tribes
Result of Beaver Wars: 1701 Grande Paix (Great Peace) Treaty

Beaver Wars - The Fur Trade
The fur trade was heavily dependent on beaver pelts. Beavers were nearly extinct in western Europe due to over hunting, and European hat makers had to rely on Russian and Scandinavian beaver fur until North American furs became available. The Iroquois League wanted to extend their territory in all directions and take over the fur trade which operated at trading posts between the other tribes of the region and the European settlers and colonists. Native Indians traded the Beaver pelts for advanced weapons, tools, beads and other European goods, which were highly valued among the Indians and beavers were growing scarce in Iroquois territories. The battles and the wars to gain monopolization of the fur trade became known as the Beaver Wars.

Specific Causes of the Beaver Wars
What were the specific causes of the Beaver Wars? The specific causes of the Beaver Wars at a local level were:

  • The Iroquois League wanted to extend their territory needing access to stocks of beaver enabling them to trade for arms and goods with the Europeans

  • The Iroquois League wanted to monopolize the fur trade and the trade between European markets 

  • The French and English both wanted to monopolize the fur trade from a European perspective

  • The French and English wanted dominance in North America

The Significance and Effects of the Beaver Wars
The effects and significance of the Beaver Wars in history is that:

  • Many tribes were forced from their homelands by the tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy and eventually adopted the Great Plains culture

  • The French had dominated early European fur trading in northern North America but lost their grip following the Beaver Wars of the mid-17th century

  • New France was conquered by the English. All trading rights and privileges became English. Furs were sent to London instead of Paris and most trade goods were supplied through London Agents

  • The English achieved dominance in the area and of the fur trade providing a massive economic boost for England

History Timeline of the Beaver Wars
This short History Timeline of the Beaver Wars provides fast facts and information about the history, years & dates, key events and famous people who fought in the Beaver Wars.

  • 1640: Beaver becomes almost extinct from the Iroquois nation land and the Iroquois begin raiding trade routes of neighbouring tribes for Beaver pelts to trade for guns from the Dutch

  • 1645: Mohawks and Dutch sign treaty known as Two Row Wampum Treat

  • 1648: War begins between the Mohawk and their allies the Seneca who are of the Iroquois nation against the Wendat

  • 1640: Iroquois attack Huron villages along the St. Lawrence, disrupting their trade with the French

  • 1649: The Iroquois had driven the Huron homelands. The French trade with the Ottawa for furs

  • 1650: The Iroquois begin to make attacks on the French terrifying the French colonists with their ferocious and blood thirsty warfare tactics

  • 1650: The Iroquois expand their territories in the west

  • 1650: The Iroquois attacked the Neutral Nation killing and assimilating thousands

  • 1654: The Iroquois initiate war against the Erie and within 2 years the nation is almost destroyed

  • 1600: An Iroquois force of 160 warriors attacked Montreal and captured 17 colonists

  • 1600: The French retaliate with small military force made up of French, Huron, and Algonquin to counter the Iroquois raids - there are heavy casualties on both sides

  • 1600: Professional French soldiers arrive in the 1660's to fight the Iroquois and adopt a 'scorched earth' policy to starve out the Iroquois. At the point of starvation the Iroquois sue for peace

  • 1660: The next attacks made by the Iroquios were on the Susquehannock tribe who are allied to the English in Maryland.

  • 1661: 1661 and 1662 the Iroquois made several raids against the Abenakis, who were allied with the French

  • 1663: 800 Iroquois warriors invade Susquehannock land. The invasion promptS the colony of Maryland to declare war on the Iroquois

  • 1664: The Dutch allies of the Iroquois lose control of the New Netherland colony to the English

  • 1666: 500 French, led by Daniel de Rémy de Courcelle, invade the Iroquois homeland in present-day New York. The French are greatly outnumbered and forced to retreat

  • 1666: A second French invasion of 1300 led by Alexandre de Prouville, the "Marquis de Tracy" and viceroy of New France destroys Mohawk villages and crops. The Mohawk are forced to sue for peace

  • 1667: French militia is organised and all men in he colonies are issued with guns and become liable for military service

  • 1670: The Hudson Bay Company receives its charter and set up a trading post were located on Hudson Bay where the Indians brought their furs

  • 1674: The English in Maryland changed their Indian Policy and negotiated peace with the Iroquois

  • 1677: The Iroquois conquer the Susquehannock

  • 1683: War between the Iroquois is resumed due to the French encroaching on their fur trade, A violent conflict erupts with the French supported by their Indian allies and the Iroquois make sporadic raids on each other

  • 1698: The Iroquois realise that they are the scapegoat in what was essentially an English inspired war sue for peace

  • 1701: Grande Paix (Great Peace) Treaty. Iroquois set policy of neutrality

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