Essay on American Bottom

3607 Words Feb 1st, 2014 15 Pages
The History of the American Bottom


Two of the nations largest rivers meet in the American Bottom. The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers served as channels of change to the area, bringing outside influences of many different peoples to an Indian-inhabited land. Like the constant flow of the rivers, there was a constant change in the American Bottom. The progress eventually developed the area into a center of economic activity and gateway to the west, but also excluded native and long-time residents. The Illinois Indians long dominated the American Bottom. They were a unique and special tribe, who were complex politically, religiously, and socially. They were also an independent people until French colonizers came to settle in the area.
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Although the Illinois were not to make it through the development of the American Bottom, they played a crucial and fascinating role in its history.

The land the Illinois lived was not only beautiful but also abundant with resources. The resources in the area amazed the French missionaries and explorers. Father Claude Allois, a Jesuit missionary, describes an interesting spectacle on a journey south. “The next day, we saw a rock seven or eight feet out of the water and two or three brasses in circumference, named ‘the pitch rock.’ Indeed, one could see the pitch trickling down in little threads on the side on which the sun was warming it. We took some and found it good for pitching canoes; and I make use of it for sealing my letters.” (Relations 159) Here we can see how the Europeans were amazed by the new treasures they were finding in the New World. The weather allowed them to grow a variety of crops including corn and other crops such as pumpkins and squash. This proved to be an important reason why the French and English both wanted control over the land. Control over this land meant control of an abundant amount of resources. More importantly though, the Illinois Country served as an important communication artery between Louisiana and Canada.

(Schmidt 5) This is another reason why their land was in such demand by colonial powers. The French had ruled trade in Illinois Country since 1673 but the English knew how…

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