The Europeans



The advent of the white men had both accidental and intentional consequences that were negative in effect.

Although the introduction of highly lethal deseases from Europe may be considered unintentional, it probably was the cause of more suffering than the white man's deliberate resort to Indian slavery and wars of extermination.

Indian forbearance was ill rewarded. Measles, smallpox, common colds and influenza, cholera, and other infectious diseases took a disastrous toll on Indian populations. By the third decade of the eighteenth century, the Chitimacha had been decimated and driven from their villages near Bayou Lafourche.

Frenchmen and metis, men of mixed blood, cohabited with Indian women in the villages, traded liquour-especially tafia, the cheap rum made from sugarcane juice-to the tribes, and corrupted the Indians. Traders, often with the help of tafia, abused the trade, and Indians became dependent on European goods. Everything from guns to glass beads was available in trade for deerskins and furs. By about 1720, the Spanish, seeking to block French expansion westward, had built a presidio in northwestern Louisiana. No institution was more feared and detested by the Louisiana Indians than slavery.


The Tunica so abhorred slavery that one woman of the tribe was said to have hanged herself to avoid it. Other tribes were equally repulsed by the institution, but Europeans. Who knew of the Indians' aversion to it, nevertheless held numbers of Indian slaves from a lengthy list of tribes. Most were Chitimacha, Natchez, and Conneche(Lipan Apache), all of whom were traditional enemies of the Europeans.



The white man was a greater borrower than the Indian and sometimes relied almost entirely upon the skill and knowledge of the Indians as hunters and farmers. The Indians and Europeans of earlier colonial times were more interdependent and much closer in material ways than their successors. The gap between the two peoples widened after1700 as the Europeans introduced Old World Foods, crops, domestic animals, tools, modes of building construction, and other culture traits.

Taken from:
"The Historic Indian Tribes of Louisiana"
Fred B Kniffen
Hiram F. Gregory
George A. Stokes


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