Many American places have been
named after Indian words. In fact, about more than half of the our states got
their names from Native American words. The word "Podunk," meant to describe a
insignificant town out in the middle of nowhere, comes from a Natick Indian word
meaning "swampy place."
may come from Choctaw meaning "thicket-clearers" or "vegetation-gatherers."
corruption of Aleut word meaning "great land" or "that which the sea breaks
from the Indian "Arizonac," meaning "little spring" or "young spring."
Arkansas: from the Quapaw
Connecticut: from an Indian
word (Quinnehtukqut) meaning "beside the long tidal river."
a Shoshoni Indian
Illinois: Algonquin for
"tribe of superior men."
meaning "land of Indians."
probably from an Indian word meaning "this is the place" or "the Beautiful
from a Sioux word meaning "people of the south wind."
Kentucky: from an Iroquoian
word "Ken-tah-ten" meaning "land of tomorrow."
Massachusett tribe of Native Americans, meaning "at or about the great hill."
Michigan: from Indian word
"Michigana" meaning "great or large lake."
Minnesota: from a Dakota
Indian word meaning "sky-tinted water."
Mississippi (state and
river): from an Indian word meaning "Father of Waters."
Missouri: named after the
Missouri Indian tribe. "Missouri" means "town of the large canoes."
Nebraska: from an Oto
Indian word meaning "flat water."
Dakota: from the Sioux
tribe, meaning "allies."
from an Iroquoian word meaning "great river."
Oklahoma: from two Choctaw
Indian words meaning "red people."
Dakota: from the Sioux
tribe, meaning "allies."
Tennessee: of Cherokee
origin; the exact meaning is unknown.
from an Indian word meaning "friends."
from the Ute tribe, meaning "people of the mountains."
corruption of an Indian word whose meaning is disputed.
from the Delaware Indian word, meaning "mountains and valleys alternating"; the
same as the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.
possibly a variation of the Indian words meaning “at the hill.”
suggests “flat meadows.”
(Gould Island)- meaning “short narrow falls.”
“a fishing place for alewives”
literally means “floating-mass-at” or simply “at the island.”
(Gay Head on Martha's Vineyeard)- “an island in the water.”
“a place closed in by a bend.”
from cheppiaquidne, “separated land.”
(Patience Island)- meaning “separated by a passage.
(Illinois): Algonquian for "garlic field." Chesapeake (bay): Algonquian name of a village.
(Rose Island)- meaning “place at the long point.”
means ‘long-tailed’ in their Iroquoian language.
(California): believed to come from the Chumash Indians.
(New York): Algonquian, believed to mean "isolated thing in water."
“a sitting down place” indicating an end of portage where the canoe is landed.
(Wisconsin): Algonquian, believed to mean "a good spot or place."
(Mystic)- missi-tuk, “great river.”
“he goes by boat.”
“at the fish place.”
(Goat Island)- means “narrow ford or strait.
(Rhode Island): named after the Indian tribe.
means “at the small narrow point.”
nashaue meaning a fishing place, possibly midway.
from the word meaning “the land between.”
meaning “eel land.”
(falls): named after an Iroquoian town, "Ongiaahra."
means ‘large lake,’ but other Iroquoian languages like Mohawk have possible root
words also, like onitariio
‘beautiful lake’ and kanadario
the little falls.”
“at the place where the land slopes.”
(Florida): Choctaw for "hair" and "people." Roanoke (Virginia): Algonquian for "shell
money" (Indian tribes often used shells that were made into beads called wampum,
as money). Saratoga (New York): believed to be Mohawk for
"springs (of water) from the hillside."
means “where the stream widens.”
from the word pohqui or pauke meaning “clear land.”
means “place of cleared land.”
meaning “where water is.”
“long water place.”
“little hill at the outlet.”
Little Comptaon, RI)- “at the river's outlet or discharge.”
possibly from saukonk meaning “at the mouth of outlet.”
corrupted from nashauwamuk, meaning “he goes by boat.”
(lake in New Hampshire): Pennacook for "rocky pond."
(lake in California/Nevada): Washo for "big water."
from kehte-tuk-ut, “on the great river.”
“good mountains (or hills) or “good lookout place.”
(Prudence Island)- meaning “at the narrow straits.”
possibly “the place of good pine trees.”
The influence of Indian names upon
American place names is quickly shown by a glance at the map or atlas. At least
twenty-six of the States of the United States have names borrowed from the
Native American words, and the same thing is true of many North American rivers
and mountains, and of large numbers of U.S. towns and counties. One of America’s largest river, and the greatest American water-fall, and
three of the five Great Lakes all have names of Native American origins
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