One of the biggest changes to Haudenosaunee traditional life came about after European contact. Prior to contact Haudenosaunee nations had little want for anything other than food, tobacoo, furs and quahog shells for making wampum. Nations traded amongst each other and with neighbouring nations.

With French, English and Dutch settlers establishing communities in North America the Haudenosaunee began to acquire goods like metal axes, knives and hoes. The Europeans for their part desired the beaver furs captured by Haudenosaunee hunters for use in clothing, hats and blankets. In exchange they offered the Haudenosaunee cooking pots, needles, scissors, woven cloth and eventually guns.

Settlers formed an alliance with the Haudenosaunee who very quickly became middlemen in the fur trade helping to regulate the flow of furs coming from western nations to the traders in the east.  Sadly, the fight for prized furs and European goods took its toll and was the key reason for a number of wars including the 70 – year Beaver Wars.