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How did Native Americans affect the French and British rivalry?

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Quick Answer

The struggle for imperial domination in America between France and England led to a race for colonization and ultimately open warfare, all of which were affected by the presence and participation of Native Americans. Originally seen as trade partners, "Indians" eventually ended up fighting on both sides of this rivalry.

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Full Answer

From the late 17th century into the 18th century, Native Americans played a wide variety of roles in the rivalry between Great Britain and France. Originally viewed only as obstacles to European advancement, both French and British explorers began to forge trade relationships with different Indian tribes and settlements. In exchange for furs and other commodities, the French aided Huron Indians in their conflict with the rival Iroquois tribe. At the same time, the British developed trade partnerships with the Iroquois and thus allied themselves against the Huron and French forces during a number of skirmishes between the two warring Indian nations.

Just as conflict was frequent between Great Britain and France back across the sea in Europe, so it was between a number of tribes of Indians. British and French settlers often used these tribal rivalries to their advantage, but overall, both the Europeans and the Native Americans took advantage of frequently shifting alliances within and between factions to expand territory and gain prestige, until the conflict reached a boiling point with the French and Indian War.

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