Louis Joliet (also spelled Jolliet), was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1645. He was the first prominent explorer born in North America from European descent.
Along with Pere (Father) Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit priest, Joliet was dispatched to explore the Mississippi River in hopes of reaching the Pacific Ocean.
Accompanied by five support staff, their trip began by following Lake Michigan to Green Bay, canoed up the Fox River to Lake Winnebago, crossed over to the Wisconsin River and followed that river downstream to the Mississippi.
They followed the Mississippi to a point just north of the Arkansas River, and, on the advice of area Native Americans, turned back. They feared the ever-increasing Spanish presence as well as hostiles.
They returned via an easier route, going first up the Illinois River and finally the Chicago River to Lake Michigan.
Joliet died in 1700 after being lost on yet another journey to one of his land holdings.