Neutral Nations and Beaver Wars

The Beaver Wars are a good example of a war that seemed to be huge and overwhelmingly epic at the moment… only to become a footnote, after enough time has passed.

During the seventeenth century, the Beaver Wars was a battle for economic welfare throughout the St. Lawrence and the lower Great Lakes region.

Absolutely huge areas of territory (from the European perspective), fought over and decided by bands of – what, twenty men? Fifty? Maybe a huge 200-man army?

I wonder how quickly a PC can put together a 200-man expeditionary force, if there was enough profit in it.

And yes, the war was fought over money – in this case, beaver pelts, and the fur trade with Europe.

American pelts began coming on the market during the 16th century—decades before the French, English and Dutch established permanent settlements and trading posts on the continent—after Basque fishermen chasing cod off Newfoundland’s Grand Banks bartered with local Indians for beaver robes to help fend off the numbing Atlantic chill.

I wonder what the Traveller equivalent would be…

The wars were brutal and are considered one of the bloodiest series of conflicts in the history of North America.

Conflicts that we know of, of course. I’m sure that there were lots and lots of nasty genocidal conflicts among the “peaceful, close-to-nature Indians” for thousands of years before the arrival of the Wicked White Man (rolls eyes).

The Ohio Country and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan had become virtually empty of Native people as refugees fled westward to escape the Iroquois warriors.

So the PCs scouts started to come across worlds that were high-population centres of culture and commerce: worlds, even entire star clusters, that are now mysteriously empty. I wonder why….

Because a large part of the conflict between the native tribes took place far beyond the frontier and in locations that had yet to have European contact, the full extent and impact of the war is unknown. Most knowledge of the western parts of the conflict comes through accounts of French explorers and the tribes they encountered during the early years of exploration. Even the effects in the eastern regions are not fully known, as large parts of the region remained unexplored. The resident tribes did not have direct contact with Europeans, so no accounts were passed on about the wars.

If there was a huge set of wars among the Vargr Extents – but Imperials were far from the action – I can conceive it as something like the Beaver Wars. Tales, rumours, legends, all difficult to verify…

From Neutral Nation (Footnotes deleted)

The French called the people “Neutral” (Frenchla Nation neutre) because they tried to remain neutral between the on-again-off-again warring between the confederacy of the Huron tribes and nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Neutral territory contained flint grounds near the eastern end of Lake Erie. This important resource was used to make spearheads and arrowheads, and its importance gave the Neutral power to maintain their neutrality. Once the neighboring countries began receiving firearms through trade with the Europeans, however, the possession of the flint grounds served as no advantage.

Control of a natural resource can help back the surveil of a neutral nation – in the Neolithic age, or with High Stellar technology. But once that cartel of broken or rendered irrelevant, the results are much the same.

Better to have mountains to guard your neutrality, like the Afghans. Or, even better, both mountains and money, like the Swiss.

Also: great powers hate neutrals set between them, be those neighbours the Iroquois and the Hurons, or Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Better get those mountains up, and arm every man in the nation…

The Neutrals had an alliance with the Wenrohronon, both Iroquoian-language peoples, to defend against the powerful Iroquois Nations, who were also Iroquoian speakers. This dissolved in 1639, with devastating effects, particularly to the Wenro. They made an alliance with the Huron, who were located further away and could not offer much support.

Alliances with distant nations who are unable to help are worse than useless, as they give false hope. Better to know for sure that you are alone and defenceless: at least that way, you can try to get some good terms from your grinning neighbour as you surrender, with a good chance of at least avoiding extermination, in return for servitude at some level or other.

It makes me wonder if there is some distant world, ready to make a lone stand against the Vargr or the Zhodani or the Solomani, because “We have the word of the Emperor that he will come to aid us, in our time of need.”

Around 1650, during a period now loosely referred to as the Beaver Wars, the Iroquois Confederacy declared war on the Attawandaron; by 1653, the Confederacy had practically annihilated the smaller people, destroying their villages, including Kandoucho. The last mention of the Neutrals in French records was in 1671.

Small neutral nations without a good set of mountains and a militant tradition tend to get razed to the ground.

As for the choice between slavery and death… well, not everyone get to have a choice, be their enemy the stone-age Iroquois, or the star-age Vilani.

“You know, once upon a time, people actually thought that ‘higher technology means higher morality.’ Can you believe that kind of lunacy?”


About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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