Coastal Migration

Shortages of agricultural workers were another result of the shift in crop growing patterns. The amount of food required by the whalers was greater than the amount that could be supplied by the native peoples. More native men were going to work on the whale ships or were building and supplying labor in other areas that benefited the Americans and Europeans. Those who did go to work on the ships learned new skills and sometimes were able to use these skills to assist their own people. Catching whales offshore, rather than at sea helped the community. But more often, it was to benefit the Americans and Europeans.

As contact between native populations and the whalers increased, the native peoples could be more demanding about the goods they wanted to receive in trade. And increasingly, they wanted guns. Guns changed the balance of power within the native populations. Those groups that got guns had an advantage over those who didn’t. As with the iron tools, the native populations living closer to the shorelines where the whalers anchored got more of the benefit of trade with the whalers than did those living inland. That meant that the coastal inhabitants could become more powerful than those living in the interior. Change happened at a quicker pace at the coast than it did inland.

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