Just as the French Heritage Corridor’s interactive map helps orient us to the resources available within the region of the Corridor, maps made by the early French explorers and settlers helped them to highlight important features of this territory.
The maps changed through time, as the French became more familiar with the terrain of the pays d’en haut and the pays des Illinois, and as they chose what characteristics to feature on these visual representations of la Nouvelle France. Looking at those maps helps us to understand which geographical landmarks and waterways were important to them. It also helps us to see how they chose to indicate the original residents of the region: the Native peoples on whom they depended.
The following activities can be used by classroom teachers–especially teachers of French–or by the general public to facilitate an exploration of these early maps and what they tell us about the French encounter of North America and its Indigenous people.