Searching for Answers, Spreading a Faith
Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet would have been aware of Claude Allouez's work, and Marquette certainly knew the priest himself. As Marquette contemplated the Mississippi's moods and currents, Dutch Jesuit and mystic Athanasius Kirscher explored topics as diverse as the physics of sound and pondered the composition of the human body. The ability to navigate the Mississippi would outflank the Iroquois, allow for new spiritual excursions, and bring the French new knowledge of areas of the continent that were virtually unknown to Europeans. The Mississippi Valley's human history began long before European exploration. The river had long been a center for America's first people. Its banks are the home of Cahokia, a complex of Indian mounds outside of present-day Saint Louis on the river's eastern shore. In a regrettable example of the limitations of colonial records, scholars have yet to uncover any biographical details of the other four men.