The enhanced connections to the wider world brought more than abundant goods. It likely was no coincidence that the first time smallpox swept across the West was in 1780, when the horse culture was in place and the virus could spread from people to people, from New Mexico to Puget Sound, during its short window of contagion. Even the vigorous flow of new goods had its downside. American Indians’ growing reliance on metal goods, firearms, and other items they could not make for themselves left them increasingly vulnerable to the outsiders who supplied them.
We can learn from the images and writings of the time... This site provides an extensive digital collection of original photographs and documents about the Northwest Coast and Plateau Indian cultures, complemented by essays written by anthropologists, historians, and teachers about both particular tribes and cross-cultural topics. These cultures have occupied, and in some cases still live in parts of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Maps are available that show traditional territories or reservation boundaries.