Early Exploration: 1500-1700

These decades characterize North America's wilderness as a challenging and mysterious force to be revered or feared, or in many cases, tamed and utilized.

"After Stephen [Esteban] had left the friars, he thought he could get all the reputation and honor himself, and that if he should discover those settlements with such famous high houses, alone, he would be considered bold and courageous. So he proceeded with the people who had followed him, and attempted to cross the wilderness which lies between the country he had passed through and Cibola. He was so far ahead of the friars that, when these reached Chichilticalli, which is on the edge of the wilderness, he was already at Cibola, which is 80 leagues beyond."

—Pedro de Castaneda
The Narrative of the Expedition of Coronado, 1560

Select these links for insights from early explorers and indigenous people.

Read the Nez Perce story of creation: "Coyote and the Monster of Kamiah."

Obtain more information on The Coronado Expedition, 1540-1542.

Go to Wilderness: 1700-1800