Sieur de La Salle

QUESTION:  From which Native American tribe does the original name for Mississippi come?
A)  Anasazi
B)  Anishinaabe
C)  Alabama-Coushatta
D)  Apache

As regular readers of the American Treasure Tour blog know, we dedicate our blog entries to different items on display throughout the Toy Box and the Music Room.  Today, we return to the lithographs along our tram route with a French explorer named Rene-Robert Cavalier, perhaps better known as Sieur de La Salle. Born to a wealthy family in 1643 Rouen, France, La Salle gave up the promise of comfort to enter the Jesuit religious order and travel to New France, known today as Montreal, Canada. That was in 1666.  He was released from the Jesuits one year later, possibly because of his relationship with Madeleine de Roybon d'Allonne, a wealthy and powerful landowner. 

Back in the 17th century, fur was the biggest business there was in the New World, and the French were all about staking their claim in the industry. Working with the governor of New France, la Salle met with Native American leaders to secure land for the benefit of fort construction. And he learned about a a large river to the south that the locals called Ohio. Furthermore, it led to an even bigger river called Mississippi. Traveling south along what would become one of the most famous riverways in the world, La Salle set up forts and named the land surrounding them, including territory he dedicated to his king, Louis XIV.  Today's Louisiana. La Salle's explorations ended in 1687.  He was forty-three when he led a force of 36 men through modern-day Texas. There was a mutiny and La Salle was killed.  For the last three hundred or so years, people have speculated as to the exact location of his death, but his body has not been located. Honestly, it does not look good at this point. But he is remembered across the Canadian and American midwest.  Our lithograph notably depicts La Salle inspecting a lead mine. To build suspense, we will look into that tomorrow.

ANSWER:  B)  Anishinaabe.  Their word for "Great River" was Misi-ziibi, which the French translated into Mississippi.