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Thread: Does your town have a Native American name?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Does your town have a Native American name?

    Got to thinking about the many very long place names around here. I know that such names must be common in other places as well. Do you know the meaning of you place's name?

    I lived in Tallahassee for several years before I learned that it translated as "Old fields" from the language of the Apalachee.

    Then the county to the south is Wakulla, which is supposed to translate as "Strange or unknown waters" after the huge spring of the same name. There is a town in Wakulla Countyu called Sopchoppywhich I have no clue as to the translation.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    It seems like places that were first colonized by the French are more likely to have American Indian names. Here in southeastern Wisconsin we have many: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Okauchee, Kenosha, Wauwatosa, Pewaukee, Kinickinnik, Ozaukee, Oconomowoc, Menomonee, Mequon, Muskego, Nagawicka, Tichigan, Waubeka, Kwaskum, Nashotah, Mukwonago, etc. These names are one of the unique characteristics of Wisconsin that is so distinctive.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Well, our Albuquerque was named after a Duke of a region in Spain called Alburquerque (note the extra "r"). The origins of the name, which became a surname, are definitely Arabic and date to the Moorish occupation. However, there is debate about whether the name comes from Al-burqurq (the plum) or Abu al-Qurq (the cork tree).

    Growing up in SEastern PA there were tons of place names from indigenous languages, though I know the meaning of none of them. And there were a few that I assumed were indigenous, but later found out were Dutch, like Schuylkill. Interestingly, here in New Mexico, where we have a significant Native American population, very few place names are from their languages. They are almost entirely Spanish (even the Pueblos) and English.

    There are a few exceptions where a Spanish word came to approximate the Native word as with Jemez, the name of a mountain range and a local tribe. The people call themselves "hamish" (pronounced "hay-mish") and the Spanish name is pronounced something like "hay-mez" instead of "heh-mez."

    Interestingly, I did grow up near Crum Creek which is not a description of its crummy nature, but a Dutch translation of the Lenape name which meant "crooked or broken."

    I love etymology, especially in place names.
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  4. #4
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    "Kalamazoo" is Potawatami and means boiling water. The boiling water is allegedly a reference to the sound made by the river.

    I've spent many an hour canoeing the Kalamazoo River and can honestly say it sounds no more like boiling water to me than any of the other lazy rivers found in this part of Michigan.

    Moderator note:
    I think I'll move this to Cities and Places, because this thread seems more to do with comparing communities than economic development.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Not my current city, but I grew up on Aquidneck Island across Narragansett Bay from Conanicut Island. I used to visit Pawtucket, Pawtuxet, Woonsocket, Weekapaug, Misquamicut and I can't forget Quonochontaug.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus
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    An easy index of New Jersey place names:
    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nj...nfo/indian.htm
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  7. #7
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Nothing that I can think of in this county. But surrounding us is Okaloosa, Choctawhatchee, Wewawhitchka, Apalachicola, and a bunch of others. I have no clue how these terms translate.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    The name of my town is Dutch, but there are many communities in upstate NY whose names have Native American origins. For example:

    Schenectady - there are several interpretations, but one source suggests that the name is a corruption of a Native American word meaning "across [or beyond] the pine plains"

    Niskayuna - the original name in the Mohawk dialect was Con-nes-ti-gu-ne, meaning "a field covered with corn"

    Schoharie - derived from a Mohawk word meaning "floating driftwood"

    Schodack - from a Mahican word meaning "place of the fire," as it was a seat of government for the tribe

    Onondaga (the county where Syracuse is located) - derived from the name of the Native American people who lived here and means "people of the hills"

    You get the picture... LOTS of Native American names 'round this part of the country!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Northeastern Wisconsin is chocked full of aboriginal place names - Neenah, Menasha, Outagamie, Waupaca, Weyauwega, Oshkosh, Oneida, Winnebago, Winneconne, Calumet, Shawano, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, etc. Of these, I do know that 'Winnebago' is Menominee for 'Land of stinking water' - a very apt name for the place as before the dams at Menasha and Neenah, WI were built, what is now Lake Winnebago was a huge, stinking swamp with a smaller lake in the middle. The state names in the midwest are almost entirely aboriginal in origin, too.

    Chicago and Milwaukee are also of aboriginal origin.

    Mike

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    From Wikipedia:

    The name "Chicago" is the French rendering of the Miami-Illinois name shikaakwa, meaning “wild leek”.[4][5][6] Etymologically, the sound /shikaakwa/ in Miami-Illinois literally means 'striped skunk', and was a reference to wild leek, or the smell of onions.[5] The name was initially applied to the river, but later came to denote what is presently the site of city. The sound Chicago is said[who?] to be the result of a French mis-transcription of the original sound by Louis Hennepin, a Catholic priest, missionary and explorer, who in 1683 first placed the place name 'Chicago' on a map.[citation needed]

    My hometown of Amherst, NY, though technically named after Amherst, Mass, is named after Jeffrey Amherst who was known for giving small pox laden blankets to the native Americans.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    La nom a ma ville est en francais.

    It means of the strait. The Detroit River is technically not a river. It is leftover from when Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair was a giant lake.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I lived in a township, Sewickley, that is a variation of a princess named Asawakale, or something like that. This name is common in three counties here.

  13. #13
         
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    as far as i'm aware, Leeds doesn't have a Native American name...

    Used to be called Loidis back in the 5th century, when it was within the Kingdom of Elmet (a celtic kingdom).

    In the 1086 Domesday Book (probably available at Borders back then), it was named as Ledes.

    As some point between then and now it has also been known as Leedes.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Atlanta is not taken from any sort of Native American word, but our iconic thoroughfare (Peachtree Street) does follow an old Indian hunting trail that ran along a ridge line...
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    like Mud Princess, i'm in a hot bed of indian names. i live along the Susquehanna River. Susquehanna is derived from an is Algonquian word which means "muddy current."

    A few towns over is Owego which is derived from the Iroquois word Ahwaga, meaning "where the valley widens".

    A few counties over is Tioga. Its name derives from an American Indian word meaning "at the forks".

    other names in the area: Nanticoke, Otsiningo, Oneida, Seneca, Cayuga, Tioughnioga.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Oklahoma's full of Native American names (the state being "Indian Territory" until it was split into "Oklahoma Territory" and "Indian Territory" - "Indian Territory" did not merge with Oklahoma until Oklahoma applied for statehood in 1907). "Oklahoma" itself is Choctaw ["okla" + "humma" = red man's land]. My in-laws live in Chickasha, which is the Choctaw word for "Chickasaw". "Tulsa" is Creek. Muskogee, Tahlequah, Chautauqua... Oklahoma's full of them like Texas and New Mexico are full of Spanish names.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    I used to visit Pawtucket, Pawtuxet, ...
    and don't forget Pawcatuck to add to the confusion.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    My first full-time planning job was in Ketchikan, Alaska, which is a Tlingit word (Kitschk-hin) that may mean "the river belonging to Kitschk" or "Thundering Wings of an Eagle." Should mean "Town where it rains 24-7"

    Southeast Alaska has a few more Native American named towns - Sitka, Skagway and Metlakatla.

    Montana has a few cities and town with Native American names: Missoula, Kalispell, Ekalaka, and Absarokee.

    The Native Americans called the valley I live in - the Valley of the Sleeping Giant - so named for a mountain to the north that looks very much like a sleeping giant.
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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Yep. I live in Piscataway, NJ. From Wiki...

    "The name Piscataway derives from its original settlers who lived near the Piscataqua River, whose name derives from Pisgeu (meaning "dark night") and awa ("Place of"), or it may come from the Lenape word meaning "Great Deer".
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Well, our town itself doesn't, but one of the neighborhoods is "Wecoma." The county (and a city it contains) to the north is named Tillamook (which I think means "place where the cheese is made"), and the hamlet of Neskowin is in that county. I think "Neskowin" means "second homes for rich snobs". To the south is Salishan, and to the east is Siletz, which is the base of our local Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians which owns the casino in my burg.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian ICT/316's avatar
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    Wichita, Kansas was named after the Wichita Indians that populated the area.

    Bill

  22. #22
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    .....there are many communities in upstate NY whose names have Native American origins.
    Here's another one: "Ticonderoga" (New York) comes from an Iroquois word tekontaró:ken, meaning "it is at the junction of two waterways"

  23. #23
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    and don't forget Pawcatuck to add to the confusion.
    The Pawtuxent River runs through Maryland.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by kms View post
    I lived in a township, Sewickley, that is a variation of a princess named Asawakale, or something like that. This name is common in three counties here.
    kms' Sewickly Township is not to be confused with Sewickly Borough, which is a few miles up the river from me, on the opposite side. While I'm technically in Hopewell Township, my postal service is the same as the City of Aliquippa.

    Aliquippa was named for an indian queen, although there's nothing to indicate that she ever lived there. The Pennsylvania and Lake Erie Railroad picked the name for a station they built in 1878, I guess cause they thought it sounded cool...

  25. #25
    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
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    I'm in Minneapolis now, which is a hybrid of Dakota minne- ("water") and Greek -polis ("city"). In essence, the City of Water.

    There are a few Dakota names around the metro, including Shakopee (pronounced SHOCK-a-pee), named for the chief of the village that previously stood there; Minnetonka ("great water"), Chanhassen ("sugar maple tree"), Anoka ("on both sides," referring to its location on both banks of the Rum River) and Chaska ("firstborn male child").

    In and around Minneapolis proper we have a bunch of names from Longfellow's poem The Song of Hiawatha, despite the fact that Longfellow never actually visited Minnesota. There is a Hiawatha Boulevard, Minnehaha Creek, Minnehaha Falls, Lake Nokomis, Keewaydin Elementary School, and a town called Osseo.

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