Members of each nation copied relationships with Indians in many different ways. Few Europeans considered Native Americans as equals, because of differences in religion, agricultural practice, housing, dress, and other characteristics. However, the French, Spanish, and Dutch sought profit through trade and exploitation of New World resources, and they knew that the native people would be important to their success. Europeans also wanted to convert Native Americans to Christianity. So, economic gain and religion were the two factors that most affected the dynamics of European and indigenous American relationships.
Spain, the most powerful monarchy in Europe and the Americas, wished to enrich themselves with the New World’s natural resources. After enslaving indigenous peoples in the Caribbean and the southern parts of the Americas to grow crops and mine for gold, silver, and other valuables, the Spanish moved into North America where they concentrated their efforts in what is now the southwestern and southeastern United States. But even the most cooperative Indians continued to maintain their own religious and cultural traditions, and many priests concluded that the Indians were inferior and incapable of understanding Christianity. Indigenous populations declined over the seventeenth century as epidemics brought by the Spanish killed large numbers of natives.
Like the Spanish colonies in North America, New France did not attract many French settlers. Instead of enslaving Native Americans in farming and mining operations, the French exploited existing inter-tribal alliances and rivalries to establish trade relationships with the Huron, Montagnais, and Algonquins along the St. Lawrence River and further inland toward the Great Lakes. French traders exchanged textiles, weapons, and metal goods for the furs of animals such as beavers, bears, and wolves. In the eighteenth century, the Dutch and English competed with the French for trade and territory, which gave local Indians continued economic, diplomatic, and military leverage as Europeans competed for their trade and military alliances through the seventeenth century.
... furs in order to supply the European demands. The Natives and the French ... The French brought a new European desire for fur with them to America when they returned and began to trade with the Indians for ... were required to interact with each other in order to make these trades possible, ...
As often as possible, Native Americans took advantage of rivalries among European powers to maintain or enhance their own political and economic positions. Wars between England and the Netherlands spilled into North America, and in 1664 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, England seized control over New Netherland and renamed the colony New York. The Iroquois quickly signed an alliance and trade treaty with the English. However, they also maintained friendly relations with the French and welcomed Jesuit missionaries into their midst. The Iroquois were generally successful at playing the French and English off one another until the English drove the French out of North America at the end of the French and Indian War.