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Home » Public Programs » Online Exhibits » American Encounters: Native American History at the Clements Library » Case 2: Early Encounters – Samuel de Champlain

Case 2: Early Encounters – Samuel de Champlain

Although 1492 is often viewed as the starting point of American exploration, Columbus in fact never set foot on the North American continent. Spanish, French, and British explorers and colonists established very different patterns of interaction with native inhabitants in North America. French explorers such as Samuel de Champlain coexisted with native peoples and developed alliances, unlike the more adversarial relations between Indians and British settlers.
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Samuel de Champlain, Les voyages dv sievr de Champlain Xaintongeois, Paris: 1613.

Samuel de Champlain (ca. 1580-1635), a French explorer and founder of Quebec City, was the first European to explore and describe the Great Lakes. This 1613 account of his voyages was a work of extraordinary quality and detail, including this foldout map titled “Carte Geographique de la Nouvelle Franse.”

The map, including beautifully detailed engravings of the aboriginal people and plant life, was intended to attract interest in the colony of New France. Champlain’s early alliances with the Huron and Algonquian tribes against the Iroquois influenced French policies in North America for over a century.