Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Native American Names of Places in the United States

There are many places including towns and states that were named after Native American words or names. In fact, about 50% of the states were named using Native American words. Many of these places have names that we almost take for granted these days and most people are unaware of their aboriginal origins. A partial list of some well known places in the United States and their meanings are below.

Alabama : from Choctaw word meaning “thicket clearers” or “vegetation gatherers”

Alaska: from Aleut word meaning “great land” or “that which the sea breaks against”

Chicago: from Algonquian word meaning “garlic field”

Illinois: from Algonquian word meaning “tribe of superior men”

Kansas: from Sioux word meaning “people of the south wind”

Kentucky: from an Iroquois word meaning “land of tomorrow”

Massachusetts: from Massachusett word meaning “at or about the great hill”

Minnesota: from Dakota word meaning “sky tinted water”

Manhattan: from Algonquian word meaning “isolated thing in water”

Milwaukee: from Algonquian word meaning “good spot or place”

Missouri: from Missouri word meaning “town of large canoes”

Nebraska: from Oto word meaning “flat water”

North/South Dakota: from Sioux word meaning “allies”

Ohio: from Algonquian word meaning “great river”

Oklahoma: from two Choctaw words meaning “red people”

Saratoga: from Mohawk word meaning “springs of water from the hillside”

Tahoe: from Washo word meaning “big water”

Utah: from Ute word meaning “people of the mountains”

Wyoming: from Delaware word meaning “mountains and valleys alternating”


A huge resource of 2,500 Native American names and meanings is available in one book. Click on the graphic below for more details.

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