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Political & Economic Organizations - Additional Reading

Economic Organization

B. Changing First Nations

The fur trade slowly changed the ancient First Nations way of life; they found themselves adapting to European-style commerce and politics. European and First Nations leadership structures contrasted greatly.  No First Nations leader had the kind of formal power wielded by someone like the factor, the trader who controlled each HBC post.  If the factor’s power was incompatible with First Nations beliefs, then the idea of a monarch ruling over a colony from a distant land across the sea must have seemed nonsensical.  First Nations leaders were usually those among the group who were seen to have experience and wisdom. 

Over time, European ideas took hold.  For example, European fur traders identified trading captains among First Nations peoples they dealt with and gave them special status.  These trading captains were often the most successful hunters or trappers, so they began to accumulate material wealth.  Among some groups, this led to a fundamental change in leadership to favour people who possessed material wealth, rather than those who gave it away.