The British and French expressed different attitudes towards the Native Americans. The British treated the Natives as inferior and degenerate. The British perceived the Native Americans as the vilest race of humans that ever existed on earth (Kelton 770). As such, the British were absolutely convinced that the best method to deal with the Natives was to keep them in subjection. The British institute but later abandoned the political tradition of gift-giving among the Natives despite being a critical element in deepening the relationships between them and the indigenous tribes. The harsh attitudes of the British towards the indigenous people violated the Native’s expectations and severed the relationships between them (Kelton 774). Similar to the British, the French relied on gift-giving as a way of fostering relationships with the Natives. However, the French perceived the Native Americans as equals. The French respected the Natives and treated them as human beings as they were (Kelton 780). The indigenous tribes equally referred to the French as trusted allies. The collaborative alliances established between the Natives and French were based on mutual respect and fair treatment.
Attitudes and Formation of Alliances
The divergent viewpoints and attitudes influenced how the Native Americans forged alliances with the Europeans. The Native Americans forged an alliance with the British and French to prevent their social and political degradation. The attitudes of the British and French towards the natives played an essential role in forging the alliance. The French treated the Natives as equal partners and thus attempted to gain their trade, souls, and marriages (Mcdonnell 43). The British, on the other hand, treated the Natives as interior and sought to control their resources. The British overwhelmingly sought to gain the Natives’ land. As such, the majority of the Great Lakes tribe aligned with the French because of their considerate attitude of gift-giving and the lack of desire to reclaim the Natives’ lands (Mcdonnell 45). The Iroquois and other tribes were economically motivated and thus aligned themselves to the British due to the lucrative fur business (Mcdonnell 50). Even though the British won against the French, the Natives participated in the war because they did not want to be considered subjugated people in their own lands. The Indians reluctantly allowed the British to occupy post abandoned by the French forces hoping the British would continue with the French’s tradition of dispensing gifts (Mcdonnell 57). This was not the case as the British expressed a cruel attitude towards the indigenous tribes forcing the indigenous communities to fight the British off their lands.
Depiction of the Alliances
In The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper Fenimore depicts the Native Americans as racially inferior and degenerate. The novel first depicts the indigenous tribes in a stereotypically fiendish fashion (Christophersen 267). Copper acknowledges that the British and French colonialists were equally victimized by numerous massacres and substantial evils advanced by the natives. Similar to the chronology of historical events leading to the formation of the alliance, and motivated by social and political protection, Cooper claims that it was the frightening attitudes of the British that magnified the conflicts. The unending horror stories made the British believe the Native Americans were savages that mingled with them (Christophersen 272). So, the British used the fur business to forge alliances with some indigenous tribes as a way of disintegrating the peace and unity the Natives enjoyed. Unlike the historical chronology of events showing alliances were forged by the Natives to preserve their social and political identities, Cooper, in The Last of the Mohicans, demonstrates that alliances were formed due to mutual military and economic benefits (Christophersen 279). Cooper claims that ports were erected due to their strategic military advantages. The ports were seized, retaken, and rebuilt by the British and French forces. These forces fought fiercely for lands they knew they were not going to retain.
Christophersen, Bill. “‘The Last of the Mohicans’ and the Missouri Crisis.” Early American Literature, vol. 46, no. 2, 2011, pp. 263–289.
Kelton, Paul. “The British and Indian War: Cherokee Power and the Fate of Empire in North America.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 69, no. 4, 2012, pp. 763–792.
Mcdonnell, Michael. “Maintaining a Balance of Power: Michilimackinac, the Anishinaabe Odawas, and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763.” Early American Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, 2015, pp. 38–79.