French exploration in the 1660s and 70s brought soldiers, canadiens [French-Candians], and priests to Wisconsin. Priests established missions such as the mission of St. François Xavier in Present Day Green Bay, mission at St. Esprit at LaPointe, and the mission of St. Michel Archange on Lake Pepin in the western side of the state. Canadiens and soldiers explored for a route to the West, and all of this led to the fur trade.
The first explorer to come to Wisconsin was Jean Nicolet who came to present day Green Bay in 1634 where he met the Hochunk. It is possible that Etienne Brule may have been to Wisconsin in the 1620s, but there is no written record left of this. In the 1650s, Wisconsin was visited by Pierre-Esprit Radisson and his brother-in-law, Médard Chouart Des Groseilliers, the first fur traders to the area. Other explorers would follow such as Jesuit priest Jacques Marquette and fur trader Louis Joliet who would be the first known Europeans to use the Fox-Wisconsin Portage (present day Portage, WI) on their way to the Mississippi River, René Robert Cavelier La Salle, Father Louis Hennepin, Daniel Greysolon Sieur DuLhut, Nicholas Perrot, and many more.
The photos on this page were taken during a reenactment of LaSalle’s 1669 encounter with the Seneca near present day Rochester, NY at a village called Ganondagan. Although this was in New York and with the Seneca, LaSalle and many others came to Wisconsin during this period and had similar experiences and encounters.