CHAPTER 13 - AMERICAN FLEURS DE LIS
As the European nations scuttled swiftly to find a place in the New World, the fleur de lis traveled with them across the Atlantic destined to emerge in the colonies. It came with the French explorer La Salle as he made his way through the Caribbean to find the mouth of one of the world’s largest rivers. As he progressed upward through the tributaries and channels of the big river Mississippi, LaSalle laid claim to vast portions of the middle of the North American continent. Remnants of his journey would often contain the symbolic flower. Ultimately, the land was claimed for Louis XIV, Sun King of France. Fleurs de lis were scattered.
While explorers, pioneers and immigrants continued to settle the vast areas of the Mississippi River region, which were now in possession of the French King, they continually alluded to Egyptian history in subtle ways. Like Egypt millennia before the vast and new Louisiana Territory was divided into “two lands.” Everything above the Arkansas River was known as la Haute-Louisiane, or Upper Louisiana. And Lower Louisiana, known by the French as la Basse-Louisiane, contained the delta and the growing city and port of Nouvelle Orleans.
But upstream, the Mississippi River meets two other rivers in the Midwest of the United States. Here, the three rivers area remains connected to our story in a bold way. In this region too, we find Egyptian themes that speak to prevalence of the culture throughout the world.
Set in the North, pays des Illinois, or Illinois Country, was the center of a bustling fur trade that put the French in direct competition with the Dutch and English. Native Americans occupied this part of the world centuries before the French arrived and laid claim. It was largely wild and untouched, but it made for exceptionally good grain harvests. History accounts that much of Lower Louisiana Territory got its grain from the Upper Region of the Mississippi, Illinois country. The two, like the pre-dynastic kingdoms of Egypt were dependent upon one another in many ways. Together, Upper and Lower Louisiana, united by the life-giving Mississippi, created an efficient economy for centuries.