1634 – First Recorded Encounter with Europeans


Figure 4. Jean Nicolet’s presumed route through the Great Lakes. Adapted from “Jean Nicolet’s Search for the South Sea,” by N. Risjord, n.d., p. 8, Retrieved from https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/11381679/jean-nicolets-search-for-the-south-sea-wisconsin-historical-society.

In 1634, while searching for the famed Northwest Passage, the French explorer Jean Nicolet (ca. 1598 – 1642) arrived at what would become Green Bay, Wisconsin (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2020).

Upon arrival, Nicolet encountered a small group of Potawatomi; however, most of the Potawatomi lived in Michigan at this point in time. Therefore, this group that met Nicolet was most likely only visiting the region (Milwaukee Public Museum, n.d.).


Bremigan, J. (n.d.). Nicolet’s presumed route through the Great Lakes. Wisconsin Historical Society.

Milwaukee Public Museum. (n.d.). Potawatomi History. Retrieved from Potawatomi History website: http://www.mpm.edu/content/wirp/ICW-152

Risjord, N. (n.d.). Jean Nicolet’s Search for the South Sea. Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved from https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/11381679/jean-nicolets-search-for-the-south-sea-wisconsin-historical-society

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020, October 28). Jean Nicolet | French explorer. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica website: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jean-Nicolet