Russians were the first to report that they had reached the area. They got there in 1741. Spanish explorers sailed up from Mexico in 1744. They met with the Haida. In 1778, Britain sent Captain James Cook to make a claim in the area.
Russia and Britain were mostly interested in trading for sea otter fur. Russian, British, and American traders all wanted these furs. The people of the Northwest Coast were smart traders. They were glad to trade furs for guns, iron, and sugar. They also traded for blankets, flour, and sails for their canoes. But contact with the new arrivals created big problems.