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  • About 60 miles south of St. Louis, on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River is a fort.

    (opening line from Firing the Cannon, by Richard Keeling)

    Ah history!
    Those three words:
    St-Louis, Illinois, Mississippi is enough to get started!

    But don’t get me started my cowbirding friend!
    The French Connection indeed.

    How the coureurs de bois out of Montréal
    (unlicensed trappers they were)
    opened up the Great Lakes territory
    & like their aboriginal allies who showed them the way,
    had only disdain for the fat-cat pelt mongers
    back in the day

    I mean seriously, ask yourself
    how does one connect the two?
    Montréal & La Nouvelle-Orléans?

    (The history books won’t tell you
    what I am about to say)

    Algonquin natives
    told Jesuit interlopers
    (exploiting Detroit* in an entirely different way)

    & the crosscarriers told the trappers
    in exchange for more souls:

    take a left @ Duluth & follow the river!

    The Ojibwe called it misi-ziibi
    & the europeans they led to its floodwaters
    at the end of Lake Superior agreed,
    it was indeed a Great River

    That’s how dots got connected in the 1720s
    when Fort de Chartres (on the Illinois side)
    preceded St-Louis
    on the way to New Orleans

    Best kind of early american history...
    aboriginals & newcomers getting along,
    frontier friendships & furs from the forest,
    nobody saw what was coming down

    *Détroit: (le détroit du Lac Érié, meaning the strait of Lake Erie)

    Travelling up the Detroit River in 1679 on the ship Le Griffon with Cavelier de La Salle, Father Louis Hennepin noted the north bank of the river as an ideal location for a settlement. In 1701, the French officer Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac, along with fifty-one additional French-Canadians, founded a settlement called Fort Ponchartrain du Détroit, naming it after the comte de Pontchartrain, Minister of Marine under Louis XIV. France offered free land in order to attract families to Detroit, which grew to 800 people in 1765, the largest city between Montréal and Nouvelle-Orléans.
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