Arrival of Strangers - The Last 500 Years
Alliances between Aboriginal groups predate European contact, and continue today in modern form.
When Europeans arrived, Aboriginal people sometimes adapted already existing alliances to incorporate the newcomers. These Aboriginal and European people lived on terms of relative equality. During peacetime, Europeans wished to maintain goodwill for the sake of the fur trade. In times of war, Europeans asked Aboriginal people either to be military allies or to be neutral. In situations where Aboriginal people had no alliances with Europeans, the outcome could be devastating, as with the Beothuk of Newfoundland. As European colonizing countries resolved their power struggles, and as the fur trade declined, and Aboriginal populations grew smaller, Europeans no longer needed the support of Aboriginal people in their military or economic activities.
Today, the protection of Aboriginal rights in the Canadian Constitution has led to renewed alliances among Aboriginal people for political unity and economic revitalization.