The French including Marquette and Joliet, La Salle as well as De Tonti, had several roles in Arkansas from the 1600s to the 1780s. In 1673, Marquette and Joliet came down the Mississippi River and crossed over to the mouth of the Arkansas River. Their role in Arkansas during the 1600s was to find a route to the Orient countries, but they were not successful in finding the route. They found that the Mississippi River led down to the Gulf of Mexico. However, the two explorers did stop in an Indian village near what is present day Helena, Arkansas.
French explorer La Salle had a better idea of what he was doing. La Salle thought it was important to build a city or town at the mouth of the river. Having a city or town at the mouth of the river would bring more trade routes into the area. La Salle had Italian explorer Henry De Tonti along for the journey down the Mississippi River.
Italian explorer Henry De Tonti was successful in establishing a town in Arkansas called the Arkansas Post. The Arkansas Post was completed and commissioned in 1686. The Post became the first European settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley. De Tonti left as the rest of La Salle's surviving troops came to the Post. While he was on his journey down the Mississippi River, he came across many different Indian tribes such as a few of the Quapaw settlements, the Tourima, also known as the Omma or Imaha along the southern portion of the Mississippi River. He continued down the Mississippi River hoping to come across his traveling companion La Salle, he was not successful in finding him.