How did European settlement change the lives of the Native peoples in the Plains region?

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Direct contact between Europeans and the Native peoples of the Great Plains was limited. In the 1500s, Spanish explorers made initial contact in the region. Although they did not stay long, they did impact the Plains tribes greatly by introducing the horse. The tribes were quick to adopt this animal...

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Direct contact between Europeans and the Native peoples of the Great Plains was limited. In the 1500s, Spanish explorers made initial contact in the region. Although they did not stay long, they did impact the Plains tribes greatly by introducing the horse. The tribes were quick to adopt this animal into their lives, greatly changing the way they hunted and migrated. Further direct European contact was limited to English and French fur traders who introduced firearms and alcohol to the region. As a result of the changes brought about by European settlement, many Plains tribes became less egalitarian as they competed for new resources. Fighting within and between tribes over European resources increased. Men with more horses and goods to trade with Europeans gained more power and influence as their social status increased.

Interactions between the Native American tribes of the Great Plains and European settlers were mostly indirect. As Europeans settled on the Atlantic coast in the 17th Century, epidemics of deadly foreign diseases spread rapidly among the Native peoples there. As Natives from the east fled European settlement and disease, they displaced many Plains tribes. This, coupled with a population crash from the introduction of foreign diseases, caused a great upheaval across the region. Entire communities were destroyed as a result of warfare and epidemics.

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