33 Pages

Brief Expedition, Many Consequences

WithLaura M. Chmielewski

Louis Jolliet had important plans for the Mississippi River Valley—he envisioned settlements of French farmers and a fortune to be amassed in trade, furs, and westward migration of French-speaking people. Jolliet's concerns would have provided a welcome counterpoint to the religious discourse so often seen in Jacques Marquette's work. The Quapaw Indians of Arkansea had convinced Louis Jolliet that the great river emptied into the Gulf of Mexico, and that hostile Indians, as well as Spanish soldiers and traders who may not take kindly to a French presence in the area, patrolled the river to the south. Marquette's goal was to reach the semi-nomadic Kaskaskia band of Illinois, which had asked the missionary to remain with them when the French passed through the village in the summer of 1673. To Indian observers, Marquette's rituals might have made little apparent sense or little difference in the way they would proceed to live their lives.