Once European people started to move into the east coast of North America, the Native Americans were forced to move further west. During the 1700s, the Shawnee, Delaware, and Mingo tribes lived near Pittsburgh. They lived in wigwams made of tree bark that were easy to take down or put up as they moved from one camping area to another. The Seneca and Erie Indians lived further north, closer to Lake Erie. Native American Indians didn't want the Europeans to come further west. Many of them had moved west to allow the Europeans to settle in the colonies along the Atlantic Ocean. Some American Indians had been paid for their land, but most of it had just been taken from them.

On the east bank of the Ohio River, about 18 miles below the Forks of the Ohio near today's Ambridge, was Logstown, the most important Indian village at that time. Here lived Shawnee, Delaware, and Mingo Tribes. Early in the 1700s, French explorers, coming down from Canada, had setup Indian Trading Posts and built Forts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, claiming the land for the French King.  By the 1730s, English traders came west from colonial towns along the Atlantic Ocean, believing that this same land should belong to the English King.

These French and English Indian traders came to the Ohio valley in the 1700s to buy fur pelts from the Indians. They were also called "fur traders" because they traded things that the Indians wanted for fur pelts. They lived like the Indians, hunting and trapping and organizing Indian trading. They often married Indian wives. The French and English saw the Indians playing with a ball and webbed sticks. The French Jesuit Priests thought that the webbed sticks to throw and carry the ball looked like a crook used in their church by Catholic bishops. They called the game "le jeu da crosse." Today it is known as lacrosse. The game was actually a religious ritual to the Native American Indians.

The English traders traveled over existing Indian trails. They brought shirts, hats, shoes, blankets, mirrors, ribbons, jewelry, pipes and tobacco, dolls, and other toys. They also supplied hatchets, tomahawks, knives, guns, ammunition, scissors, needles, pots, and kettles on the backs of many packhorses. Most Indian traders built log cabins to live and trade in.

How would your life change if new tools, toys and technology
that you never had before were suddenly available?

John Frazier, George  Croghan, William Trent, Alexander McKee, and James O'Hara were some of the first traders in early Pittsburgh.

Many of the Indian Traders learned to speak native American languages to negotiate buying land and making treaties between the Indians and white settlers. The Indians didn't understand the idea of a single person owning land. They thought of the land as a range for their hunting instead of a piece of ground to take for your own and grow crops. Owning land made no more sense to the Indians than saying that you could own a piece of air or sunlight. Even Indian chiefs couldn't sell land since the Indians land was communal, meaning that it was all of theirs to use, not own.

Why did the Indians think that owning land was as ridiculous
as owning a piece of air or sunlight?

When the Indians saw forts being built, they at first thought that these were just to
help with the trading posts. They didn't understand that the soldiers were there to protect the settlers who came to take their land and make this into their own farms. They didn't know at first that these settlers would force the Indians to move away.

Unfortunately, some Indian traders were dishonest and took advantage of the Indians by cheating them in many ways. The Indians became angry with white people because of this. They became even angrier when they realized that the white people were taking away their hunting grounds. The colonial governors tried to keep the white settlers from moving into Indian hunting ground, but they were unable to keep them out. In fact, some of the British officials were getting rich by obtaining large pieces of Indian land as land grants and then selling it to settlers. For that reason the Indians began to choose white allies who were less harmful to their life style. First they sided with the French instead of the English.

If you were a Native American what would you think
of the Europeans moving into your neighborhood?

The French fur traders were there mostly to buy furs and were not interested in staying to farm the land. After the Revolutionary War ended, the Indians sided with the English instead of the Americans.

They still hoped that the English would help them keep the Americans from moving further west to settle.

 

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