1. What factors influenced the changing attitudes of whites toward natives during the early to mid-nineteenth century? How did this alter the relationship between Aboriginals and English Canadians?
Initially Aboriginals and European settlers were on proper terms due to a mutually beneficial economic concurrence of trade. The European settlers had also fashioned an alliance with the natives to protect each other from the constant military threat from the South. However in the midst of the nineteenth century a drastic alteration occurred in the relations. As there was an increase in Anglo-Americans and British immigrants there resulted in fewer needs for the European settlers to remain in alliance with the Aboriginals. This increase in the European population in Canada accompanied by the execution of the Fur-Trade by the Hudson Bay Company and a diminishing threat from the Untied States was the foundation of absolute dismantlement of the indigenous relations with the European settlers (Miller, p. 103).
As the new European settlers came pouring into the spacious country from 1790 – 1830 there was a need for more agricultural and settlement land, but irritatingly enough to these new settlers, the land they desired was being occupied by the indigenous people of the country (Miller, p. 103). Instead of being allies, they were now a quandary (Miller, p. 104). The British missionaries, bringing the word of the Lord and Humanism, also happened to bring with them the view of ethnocentricity (Miller, p. 112-113). These ethnocentric views were valid in the eyes of the Europeans due to the theory of Social Darwinism, and the theories behind evolution, which apparently only matter when the time is right (Miller, p. 112). Putting together the facts that there was a fast growing European settlement, and that they thought they were superior to the indigenous people the result was a fast paced dwindling of the Native population whose land was settled and developed without the Natives having much say in the matter (Miller, p. 123). Because of the Christian missionaries and their pseudoscientific outlook on cultural inferiority there were high levels of oppression and assimilation placed on the indigenous people.
Also during this time of European immigration there was the war of 1812 between Canada and the United States. The end of the war brought an increase in peace between the two nations. Where there had been dependency on the Natives prior to the war for national security against the United States, there was now peace with the United States instead (Miller, p 106). Following the end of the war was the amalgamation of Montreal’s North West Company with the Hudson Bay Company in 1821 (Miller, p. 103) Due to this there was a significant decrease in the need for the fur trade to continue with the indigenous peoples breaking any sort of economic dependencies the European settlers had with them. The indigenous people took a rather large hit to their economic prosperity: “The hunting oriented Algonkin and Nipissing suffered especially from this pressure on resources and from the closure of the HBC’s post” (Miller, p. 115).
The biggest problem that was enforced on the Natives was the residential schools that were put in place for the children. Not only were there high levels of assimilation and cultural oppression because of previously stated theories, this is where the current problem of native integration happened. Their standard of education was too low and not funded enough to be in competition with the rest of the country resulting is a very segregated community of natives that we see today. Attempts were made to have Natives living “civilized life” by placing these residential schools, converting them to Christians and creating European style freeholds on the land through strategic policies (Miller, p. 120). For these reasons the relationship of the Natives and the European settlers was changed from reverence and collaboration to supremacy and oppression.
Miller, J.R. Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens, A history of Indian-White Relations in Canada. 3rd Ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001. Pages 103-111.