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The Wyandot were an Iroquoian-speaking people in this area; they were historically known as the Huron by the French.French voyageurs and coureurs des bois explored and settled in Michigan in the 17th century.

Other Algonquian tribes in Michigan, in the south and east, were the Mascouten, the Menominee, the Miami, the Sac (or Sauk), and the Fox.Jesuit missionaries were well received by the area's Indian populations, with few difficulties or hostilities. Main articles: French and Indian War, Treaty of Paris (1763), Province of Quebec (1763–1791), Indian Reserve (1763), American Revolutionary War, Treaty of Paris (1783), Northwest Ordinance, and Northwest Territory In 1701, French explorer and army officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit or "Fort Pontchartrain on-the-Strait" on the strait, known as the Detroit River, between lakes Saint Clair and Erie.In 1679, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle built Fort Miami at present-day St. In 1691, the French established a trading post and Fort St. Cadillac had convinced King Louis XIV's chief minister, Louis Phélypeaux, Comte de Pontchartrain, that a permanent community there would strengthen French control over the upper Great Lakes and discourage British aspirations.While the original building does not survive, the congregation remains active.Cadillac later departed to serve as the French governor of Louisiana from 1710 to 1716.

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