Horses Change Native Lives
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The 1724 Journal of de Bourgmont

Éttienne de Veniard, sieur de Bourgmont was the first known white man to systematically explore the Missouri River basin and was the first to record his findings. After leaving France a convicted juvenile delinquent, Bourgmont settled in Canada and joined the military. When an Indian attack on Fort Pontchartrain (near modern day Detroit) damaged Bourgmont’s reputation, the acting commander escaped to the wilderness. He lived with Indians for years at a time and became a notorious and powerful figure among the them, eventually becoming the king’s personal envoy to the tribes that complicated France’s desire for western expansion.

Bourgmont's Missouria wife
Bourgmont’s Missouria wife on her return from France in 1725.
Courtesy Missouri State Capitol

The following journal entries chronicle Bourgmont’s expedition to negotiate peace between and among the French, Pawnee, Oto, Kansa, and Padouca (or Plains Apache) Native American tribes.


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