During the early decades of the seventeenth century, French traders and missionaries explored the St. Lawrence River valley and established settlements and trading posts at Quebec, Montreal, and other sites. These expeditions led them westward to the river’s source, the “Sweet Seas,” as the Great Lakes were designated on contemporary French maps. The Europeans were told by several tribes of Native Americans that beyond the Great Lakes was a magnificent river that flowed to the sea. This vast but unfamiliar and unexplored land soon would be claimed in its entirety by France. At a colorful pageant staged before the chiefs of fourteen tribes, French colonial authorities in 1671 declared that not only were the Great Lakes annexed to the kingdom of Louis XIV, but also “all other countries, rivers, lakes . . . those discovered and to be discovered, bounded on one side by the Northern and Western seas, and on the other by the South Sea, this land in all its length and breadth.”1