On May 8, 1541, Spanish explorer Fernando de Soto reached the banks of the Mississippi River. De Soto and his expedition were exploring the southeastern part of North America, searching for gold and other riches.De Soto had decamped from what is now Tampa Bay, Florida, two years earlier. In Tampa, de Soto hired a skilled translator (Juan Ortiz), who was able to communicate with many local Native American people. From Tampa, de Soto and Ortiz traveled with a huge expedition of about 600 men and 200 horses. Those numbers dwindled as they confronted unfamiliar, hostile cultures and harsh weather.The de Soto expedition traveled from Tampa to what is now northern Florida, a region called Apalachee (from where we get our word Appalachia). Next, they continued their futile search for gold in what are now the forests of North Carolina and Tennessee. There, they accidentally released pigs brought on the expedition for food. These introduced species were the ancestors of the feral razorback hogs now found throughout the southeastern U.S.The de Soto expedition then met the Alabama people, but had a bloody encounter with the Mobilians, led by Chief Tuskaloosa, on the Gulf Coast. (The U.S. later borrowed these names, of course, for the modern state of Alabama and two of its largest cities—Mobile and Tuskaloosa.) The expedition crossed the Mississippi River—which de Soto called the Rio Espiritu Santo—near what is today Memphis, Tennessee, and proceeded to explore regions in Oklahoma and Texas. De Soto was the first European to see the “Valley of Vapors”—what is now Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry ancestor Noun
organism from whom one is descended.
a slope of land adjoining a body of water, or a large elevated area of the sea floor.
to exchange knowledge, thoughts, or feelings.
to address a problem or person directly.
learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.
to pack up equipment and leave a camping or temporary resting site.
to meet, especially unexpectedly.
journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.
person who studies unknown areas.
wild or untamed.
ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.
useless or without any result.
one of many spiritual deities or supreme beings.
confrontational or unfriendly.
introduced species Noun
a species that does not naturally occur in an area. Also called alien, exotic, or non-native species.
Native American Noun
person whose ancestors were native inhabitants of North or South America. Native American usually does not include Eskimo or Hawaiian people.
feral hog common in the southeastern U.S.
any area on the Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.
Encyclopedic Entry: region translator Noun
someone who interprets, usually from one language to another.
community made of one or several family groups sharing a common culture.
visible liquid suspended in the air, such as fog.
state of the atmosphere, including temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, and cloudiness.
Encyclopedic Entry: weather