In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, European explorers ventured into the area we now know as Mississippi. It was this week in 1581, in the far northwestern corner of our state, that Spanish soldiers under Hernando de Soto became the first Europeans to see the Mississippi River.
One hundred years later, French explorer Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur De La Salle led an expedition down the Mississippi River in canoes. Finding the mouth of the River, he claimed the entire Mississippi River Basin for France, naming it Louisiana, after his king, Louis XIV.
In 1699, French Canadian Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, explored the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, attempting to rediscover the mouth of the Mississippi. At Biloxi Bay, in what is now the town of Oceans Springs, he built Fort Maurepas, the first permanent white settlement in Mississippi.
For more interesting facts about Mississippi's 200-year history, watch and listen to a new interstitial each week of 2017 with Mississippi: A Thread Through Time on MPB Television, MPB Think Radio and mpbonline.org/ms200.