Marquette and Joliet Find Iowa Lush and Green
In the summer of 1673, French explorers Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette traveled down the Mississippi River past the land that was to become the state of Iowa. The two explorers, along with their five crewmen, stepped ashore near where the Iowa river flowed into the Mississippi. It is believed that the 1673 voyage marked the first time that white people visited the region of Iowa. After surveying the surrounding area, the Frenchmen recorded in their journals that Iowa appeared lush, green, and fertile. For the next 300 years, thousands of white settlers would agree with these early visitors: Iowa was indeed lush and green; moreover, its soil was highly productive. In fact, much of the history of the Hawkeye State is inseparably intertwined with its agricultural productivity. Iowa stands today as one of the leading agricultural states in the nation, a fact foreshadowed by the observation of the early French explorers.
Before 1673, however, the region had long been home to many Native Americans. Approximately 17 different Indian tribes had resided here at various times including the Ioway, Sauk, Mesquaki, Sioux, Potawatomi, Oto, and Missouri. The Potawatomi, Oto, and Missouri Indians had sold their land to the federal government by 1830 while the Sauk and Mesquaki remained in the Iowa region until 1845. The Santee Band of the Sioux was the last to negotiate a treaty with the federal government in 1851.
The Sauk and Mesquaki constituted the largest and most powerful tribes in the Upper Mississippi Valley. They had earlier moved from the Michigan region into Wisconsin and by the 1730s, they had relocated in western Illinois. There they established their villages along the Rock and Mississippi Rivers. They lived in their main villages only for a few months each year. At other times, they traveled throughout western Illinois and eastern Iowa hunting, fishing, and gathering food and materials with which to make domestic articles. Every spring, the two tribes traveled northward into Minnesota where they tapped maple trees and made syrup.
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Go to Lock and Dam 14 after 1 p.m. “because the sun is at your back.”
• Eagles fish into the wind, which photographers should keep in mind to get forward-facing shots.
• Eagles also gather near Concord Street in Davenport, the steel dam on the Rock River, Lock and Dam 15 at Rock Island and Sunset Marina in Rock Island. “The easiest the meal, the better,” he said. “That’s why you see eagles clustered at locks and dams.”
• In the mornings, you can watch eagles fly from the eagle refuge near Lock and Dam 14. “They’ll fly out of there 10-15 at a time,” Quad Citiens.
• Two trees at Lock and Dam 14 are known as the “eagle trees,” where eagles wait to fish. If the birds “aren’t bothered by humans,” they will fly right over people and eat in the parking lot.
• Photographers are cautioned not to walk toward the “eagle trees.” “Once you scare them out of the trees, it’s eight hours before they come back. “If you go any closer than the restroom (at the site), you’ll scare them,” he said.
• He showed photos not only of the eagles, but also of the people who gather in crowds at the lock and aim to take pictures.
• “A lot of photographers sit on the rocks. That way, while the sun goes down, they can capture beautiful colors, he said.
• Mature eagles have a white head, golden feet and gold in their beaks and eyes.
• Juvenile eagles, or “juvies,” don’t have the gold colors yet.