There were many influences on Native Americans that forever transformed their lives. Few of these events had the impact of the introduction of firearms. A new book, Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America, asserts this belief and helps the reader to understand how dramatically Firearms Changed Native America.
Increased Tribal Conflicts
The arrival of guns to the North American Continent increased violence between tribes. Revenge and domination were easier when a tribe was able to amass an arsenal of the powerful weapons. Many tribal leaders took advantage of this fact and did whatever possible to make certain their inventory of weapons exceeded that of their rivals. The battles between the tribes were now deadlier and many lives were lost that might have otherwise been unaffected.
Grew European Settlements
Many settlers profited heavily from the sales of European Firearms to the natives. Firearms did give the natives more negotiating ability and increase the risk they posed to the safety of the colonists, but the benefit of the profit outweighed these concerns. In addition, Europeans and others made deals with the natives that allowed them to hunt and trap on their lands and this earned them even more profit. Colonialism expanded rapidly due to this increase in wealth and happened while many tribes were busy using the weapons against each other.
Increasing Tribal Power
The natives were instantly aware of their disadvantage against Europeans with modern weapons, so they were willing to form alliances and make trades to get the weapons they desired. Once the tribes became heavily armed they gained negotiating power against the settlers. This forced others to be more respectful and diplomatic in their interactions with the natives.
In many ways the gun culture of the United States was created at the same time as the nation was formed. The natives and the settlers experienced the same positive and negative effects due to guns that are seen today. The sudden availability of firearms led to increased violence and many settlements and tribes were victimized by criminally-minded natives terrorizing their lands. Firearms Changed Native America in some beneficial ways too. Obtaining food was easier due to the increased hunting ability of tribe members and the natives were able to protect their lands from others. Their influence in the trade industry grew and many tribes were able to thrive because of this strength.