Chevalier Verendrye & The Assassin's Creed

The Assassin’s Creed

The Assassin’s Creed Is an action-adventure video game series. I know nothing, not one thing, about gaming but became interested in this series of games because of the historical characters portrayed. One, in particular, Chevalier (she va lya) Verendrye, caught my attention. Why? Because he was, reportedly,  the first white man into what today is Wyoming. The series of games are fiction, but as historical fiction books also do,  there are people, in the game, that were in that place or period in history. As I understand it, and this may be a stretch as I have not played a video game for 25 years. Remember Atari? The game features two adversarial groups, the Templars, and the Assassins. Our man, Chevalier Verendrye is of the latter group of Assassins. These two groups are fiction, but gamers tell me they are fascinating and that the storyline for Assassin’s Creed is terrific.

Who Was Chevalier Verendrye?

In real life, Chevalier was one of three sons of, trader, trapper, explorer and seeker of fame and fortune, Pierre de la Verendrye. He is best remembered from the 1730s, two hundred years after Coronado tramped all the way to the Kansas/Nebraska line searching for the seven cities of gold. In many ways, Pierre de la Verendrye was like Coronado seeking the unknown and the riches that might be afforded there. In Verendrye’s case, he was looking for an easy way to reach the Pacific Ocean, preferably a water route. The river he sought was the Columbia and today we all know what he did not, it doesn’t reach Wyoming.

In the summer of 1733 Verendrye and his party, including his sons left Montreal and marched southwest. At least on paper, the mission was to claim land in the name of the motherland, France. Most believed Verendrye was more interested in collecting a fortune in furs and in the fame that would come his way as an explorer of the American wilderness. Verendrye reached as far as present-day South Dakota before losing twenty men, including his youngest son in an Indian battle. Losing the men was devastating enough, but he also lost his supplies and most of his pack animals. His guide who must have had enough by that point in the journey, snuck off during the night leaving Verendrye no other option than to go back.

A Second Try

Nine years passed before Pierre’s son Chevalier decided to give it another try. Chevalier found no passage to the Pacific, but he did reach present day Wyoming. He entered the state in Park County near present day Franny and traveled on south to the site of Lander in Fremont County. Although he was not looking for an overland route if he had continued about 100 miles, they would have found South Pass.

Would they have recognized it as the gateway to the Pacific? That question is best left for historians to argue.

He may not have found what he wanted, but today Chevalier Verendrye is known as the first white man to enter Wyoming.  
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