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Archaeology Paper Reports Meaning Of Indian River Names
Monterey Herald ^ | 3-10-2003 | Ernest Herndon

Posted on 03/11/2003 4:25:49 PM PST by blam

Archaeology paper reports meaning of Indian river names

ERNEST HERNDON
Associated Press

McCOMB, Miss. - The Chickasawhay, one of the finest rivers in the state, also has one of the prettiest-sounding names - Chick-a-sah-HAY. The Choctaw meaning: "Place Where Martins Dance."

The name probably referred to a long bluff on the river known as King's Bluff where martins built nests in the bank.

That tidbit is in a research paper by University of Southern Mississippi anthropology student Chris McPhail: "Mississippi Rivers: A Study of Choctaw Indian Place-Names of the Streams and Rivers of the State of Mississippi."

McPhail pored over 300-year-old maps of French explorers showing the rivers with their Indian names. To translate them he studied the Muskhogean language the tongue of Choctaws and related tribes and consulted books such as "Choctaw Language Dictionary."

Right off the bat he solved "bogue" (originally "boke") refers to a clear, swift stream with a sandy gravel bottom, while "hatchie" (originally hatcha) refers to a sluggish, broad, deep river.

Just look at the rivers with "bogue" in the name, like Bogue Chitto and Bogue Homa, and then at those with "hatchie," like Tallahatchie and Hatchie, and the difference is obvious.

Some of his definitions disagree with those given by other sources, which suggests that the translation of old Indian place names is a mighty complicated business. Samples:

_Mississippi River. There are many theories about the meaning of Mississippi. McPhail thinks it's a contraction of Choctaw "mishi sipokni sipi," meaning infinitely old.

_Yazoo: McPhail dissents from the commonly accepted "river of death" and says Yazoo comes from "yashu," Choctaw for stinking mud.

_Tallahatchie River, Tallahala Creek, Tallahoma Creek: After much research, McPhail found a distinction between the Choctaw word "tala," which means palmetto, and "tali," which means rock. As a result, he says Tallahatchie means palmetto river, Tallahala means dancing palmetto, but Tallahoma means red rock.

_Homochitto River, Bogue Homa Creek, Tallahoma Creek: McPhail likewise differentiates between "humma," which means red, and "homi," which means bitter. Thus he says Homochitto means big red and Tallahoma means red rock, but Bogue Homa stands for bitter creek. Incidentally, he says the original name for Homochitto was Bokomachito, as in Bogue Homo Chitto, or big red creek (chitto means big).

_Okatoma: This name comes not from a contraction of homa but from "oka" for water and "katoma" for stench, thus stinking water.

_Yocona River: This is a contraction of "yockni catawpha hatcha," or land of dividing creeks.

_Tombigbee River: From "itombi ikbe," or box maker, in reference to the limestone slabs along the river which Indians used to make boxes to hold the bones of their deceased.

_Buttahatchie: "Bota hatcha," corn meal river.

_Buckatunna: Probably from "bogue tunna," or weaving creek, either from its meandering course or from riverside canes which could be used to weave baskets. Or maybe tunna comes from "tunnap" for "other side," since the creek was on the far side of the Chickasawhay River where the Choctaws had a village.

_Biloxi: "Biluchi," hickory bark.

_Tchoutacabouffa: "Shuti kobaffi," broken pots.

_Pearl: Maps show the Indians called the middle river "Talli Yaiya," or moaning rock. McPhail believes this came from a section of rock cliff which "produces a clearly audible moaning sound as wind blows up the river and is trapped and forced over this rock and into the recessed cliff. Years after reading accounts of this phenomenon and after many trips by small boat to this place I was finally privileged to hear it. It can be likened to one blowing into an open soda bottle."

_Topisaw: McPhail didn't include this in his paper but analyzed it at McComb outdoorswoman Vickie Cothern's request. His best guesses were "tabi sha," which means peeled vines, or "tappa asha," meaning "creek of many falling banks."


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Mississippi
KEYWORDS: americanindians; archaeology; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; governmentwaste; history; indian; names; paper; river; rivers
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There you go.
1 posted on 03/11/2003 4:25:49 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
I've been told that "Omaha" means "great stinking water." So "Council Bluffs" must mean "world's largest open sewer."
2 posted on 03/11/2003 4:32:46 PM PST by IronJack
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To: blam
Here's one from Santa Cruz. Awatos. It means "where the waters meet." Was the source for the town "Aptos." (aWATos) Ohlone Indian word.
3 posted on 03/11/2003 4:36:21 PM PST by EggsAckley ( IMPEACH MARTIN SHEEN!)
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To: blam
This is cool!"yockni catawpha" -- Faulkner's "Yoknapatawpha" is extremely close to this -- if the two words mean "land divided" it sheds new light on the sotries that take place therein.
4 posted on 03/11/2003 4:38:48 PM PST by Temple Drake (sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof)
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To: IronJack
So "Council Bluffs" must mean "world's largest open sewer."

That would have to be Detroit, which is French for Detoilet.

5 posted on 03/11/2003 4:38:49 PM PST by Alouette
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To: blam; knak
What does Blix mean?
6 posted on 03/11/2003 4:39:08 PM PST by Shermy
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To: Chapita; NerdDad; gulfcoast6
ping
7 posted on 03/11/2003 4:39:52 PM PST by razorback-bert (At least this isn't a bloody French tagline)
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To: blam
That tidbit is in a research paper by University of Southern Mississippi anthropology student Chris McPhail: "Mississippi Rivers: A Study of Choctaw Indian Place-Names of the Streams and Rivers of the State of Mississippi."

Sounds like ol Chris has a lot of spare time on his hands. Sure hope this was not done a a grant from the feds.

8 posted on 03/11/2003 4:40:14 PM PST by Michael.SF. (A nod is as good as a wink, to a blind horse.)
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To: blam
A river named by Indians of another continent is the Ganges river, which means "Don't get any of that on you." Unfortunately not enough people pay attention.
9 posted on 03/11/2003 4:44:26 PM PST by gcruse (When choosing between two evils, pick the one you haven't tried yet.)
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To: razorback-bert; Clarinet_King
Love it that this was published at USM. Clarinet_King (my oldest son) was notified yesterday that he was selected to receive the University of Southern Mississippi Leadership Scholarship. It pays $2200 per year for 4 years and is designated to pay room and board expenses. Now if he can get the band to come through for tuition (or some of it) he might even get to go to college this fall.

Of course, I say this without any sense of pride or anything. (Yeah, right)
10 posted on 03/11/2003 5:04:34 PM PST by NerdDad
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To: blam
My personal favorite (from here in AK) -- Anaktuvuk Pass/River: Means, "Place where the caribou poop."
11 posted on 03/11/2003 5:25:25 PM PST by Anchoragite
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To: IronJack
Actually, Omaha is supposed to mean "above all others" on a river. That is further proof that South Dakota and North Dakota don't exist. They are just a figment of someones imagination.

However, your translation of Council Bluffs is right-on.
12 posted on 03/11/2003 5:41:02 PM PST by jim_trent
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To: blam
_Tallahatchie River,

Did he say anything about finding the body of Billy Joe McAllister ?

13 posted on 03/11/2003 5:46:19 PM PST by tubebender (?)
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To: tubebender
"Did he say anything about finding the body of Billy Joe McAllister ?"

Lol. Not a word about Billy Joe. (Some, to this day, say he faked the jump.)

14 posted on 03/11/2003 5:51:51 PM PST by blam
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To: blam; HairOfTheDog
"Shock and Awe" : From Cherokee word "Shaukeenaaw" meaning "to soil one's loincloth".

Sure, I posted it somewhere yesterday, but I still really like it. :-)

15 posted on 03/11/2003 6:03:27 PM PST by Ramius
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To: blam
You mean Indian names like Chattahoochie, Tallapoosa, Coosa, Ocmulgee, Oconee, Sweetwater, Warwoman ?
16 posted on 03/11/2003 6:09:23 PM PST by Vigilantcitizen
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To: Ramius
I have about three jokes. I use 'em over and over again!
17 posted on 03/11/2003 6:40:53 PM PST by HairOfTheDog
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To: jim_trent
Actually, Omaha is supposed to mean "above all others" on a river.

Yeah, that's the "sanitized" definition. But there are natives who insist that the true translation is considerably less flattering.

On the other hand, there is no ambiguity regarding Council Bluffs. All they need is banjo lessons ...

18 posted on 03/11/2003 7:18:00 PM PST by IronJack
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To: NerdDad
I'm in Oktibbeha County which literally translated means, "perennial losing seasons at football."
19 posted on 03/11/2003 7:25:19 PM PST by flying Elvis
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To: blam
It happens that just about every Indian name river in the Pacific Northwest is the local tribe's name for "dead, stinking fish."
20 posted on 03/11/2003 7:29:49 PM PST by r9etb
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To: blam; TroutStalker; martin_fierro
Allegheny River -- "beautiful water".
Monogahela River -- "steep banks along the water".
Ohio River -- "fair waters"
Youghiogheny River -- "circuitous or winding stream"
Susquehanna -- "Long, Winding River"
Juniata River -- "a projecting rock" or "Standing Stone"
Shenango River -- "bull thistles"
Kishacoquillas Creek -- "The snakes are already in their dens"
Tuscarora Creek -- "hemp gatherers"
Ohiopyle -- "water whitened by froth"
Pymatuning Creek -- "crooked mouthed man's dwelling place"
Kinzua Creek -- "they gobble"; referring to wild turkeys frequenting the watershed
Punxsutawney -- "gnat town"

Many more (PDF)

21 posted on 03/11/2003 8:05:49 PM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: r9etb
And "Cuyahoga" means "river that burns in flames".
22 posted on 03/11/2003 8:13:09 PM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: xsmommy
pingiminetas!
23 posted on 03/11/2003 8:14:21 PM PST by martin_fierro (FRUCK FANCE!)
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To: blam
Vegetarian is an old indian word that means "Poor Hunter"
24 posted on 03/11/2003 8:54:01 PM PST by HP8753
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To: Shermy
What does Blix mean?

Ignorance

25 posted on 03/11/2003 9:01:13 PM PST by null and void
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To: Anchoragite
My personal favorite (from here in AK) -- Anaktuvuk Pass/River: Means, "Place where the caribou poop."
26 posted on 03/11/2003 9:02:44 PM PST by null and void (No shit???)
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To: wardaddy; Cleburne
ping.
27 posted on 03/11/2003 9:04:44 PM PST by Black Agnes
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To: blam
Chappaqua -- Swamp of the ugly squaw.
28 posted on 03/11/2003 9:07:25 PM PST by Consort
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To: Consort
Now that's funny!
29 posted on 03/11/2003 9:08:47 PM PST by Black Agnes
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To: firebrand; rmlew; Cacique; nutmeg; RaceBannon; Dutchy; StarFan; Coleus
Local color ping. BTW, a river in LA not far from the MS border, the Bogalusa river means Black creek or river (Losa means black). Choctaw territory included part of LA as well.
30 posted on 03/11/2003 9:10:57 PM PST by Black Agnes
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To: Black Agnes
Doesn't Seattle mean 48 degrees and raining?
31 posted on 03/11/2003 9:14:12 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Probably. Maybe it means 'liberal infested' also.
32 posted on 03/11/2003 9:16:31 PM PST by Black Agnes
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To: flying Elvis
You poor thing. BTW, I think Oktibbeha creek was the dividing line between the Chickasaw and Choctaws & means something like creek that runs with blood or creek of no mans land or something.
33 posted on 03/11/2003 9:18:06 PM PST by Black Agnes
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To: Black Agnes
Choctaw Nation

34 posted on 03/11/2003 9:19:34 PM PST by Consort
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To: blam
Lots of Indian named things in MS...
35 posted on 03/11/2003 9:19:39 PM PST by Black Agnes
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To: stand watie
ping.
36 posted on 03/11/2003 9:21:03 PM PST by Black Agnes
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To: Consort
Chickasaw Nation

37 posted on 03/11/2003 9:24:12 PM PST by Consort
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To: blam
From Palatka, Florida - we have this :
"Palatka" is Seminole Indian language for
"Hey, let's stop here and let the horses take a shit"
Or at least that is what I was always told.
38 posted on 03/11/2003 9:26:21 PM PST by Hanging Chad (not to be confused with "Hanging Ten" or "Hanging Wallpaper"...)
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To: Ramius
Cherokee Nation
(Oklahoma Band)

39 posted on 03/11/2003 9:29:52 PM PST by Consort
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To: Black Agnes
American Indian Place Names

by Borgna Brunner

Many American places have been named after Indian words. In fact, about half of the states got their names from Indian words. The name of Kentucky comes from an Iroquoian word (Kentahten), which means "land of tomorrow." Connecticut's name comes from the Mohican word (Quinnehtukqut), which means "beside the long tidal river." And the word "Podunk," meant to describe a insignificant town out in the middle of nowhere, comes from a Natick Indian word meaning "swampy place."

Here are some others:

Alabama: may come from Choctaw meaning "thicket-clearers" or "vegetation-gatherers."

Alaska: corruption of Aleut word meaning "great land" or "that which the sea breaks against."

Arizona: from the Indian "Arizonac," meaning "little spring" or "young spring."

Chicago (Illinois): Algonquian for "garlic field."

Chesapeake (bay): Algonquian name of a village.

Connecticut: from an Indian word (Quinnehtukqut) meaning "beside the long tidal river."

Illinois: Algonquin for "tribe of superior men."

Indiana: meaning "land of Indians."

Iowa: probably from an Indian word meaning "this is the place" or "the Beautiful Land."

Kansas: from a Sioux word meaning "people of the south wind."

Kentucky: from an Iroquoian word "Ken-tah-ten" meaning "land of tomorrow."

Massachusetts: from 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."

The state name Utah is from the Ute tribe, meaning "people of the mountains."

Mississippi (state and river): from an Indian word meaning "Father of Waters."

Malibu (California): believed to come from the Chumash Indians.

Manhattan (New York): Algonquian, believed to mean "isolated thing in water."

Milwaukee (Wisconsin): Algonquian, believed to mean "a good spot or place."

Missouri: named after the Missouri Indian tribe. "Missouri" means "town of the large canoes."

Narragansett (Rhode Island): named after the Indian tribe.

Nebraska: from an Oto Indian word meaning "flat water."

Niagara (falls): named after an Iroquoian town, "Ongiaahra."

The name Tahoe (the lake in California/Nevada) is Washo for "big water."

North Dakota: from the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies."

Ohio: from an Iroquoian word meaning "great river."

Oklahoma: from two Choctaw Indian words meaning "red people."

Pensacola (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."

South Dakota: from the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies."

Sunapee (lake in New Hampshire): Pennacook for "rocky pond."

Tahoe (lake in California/Nevada): Washo for "big water."

Tennessee: of Cherokee origin; the exact meaning is unknown.

Texas: from an Indian word meaning "friends."

Utah: from the Ute tribe, meaning "people of the mountains."

Wisconsin: French corruption of an Indian word whose meaning is disputed.

Wyoming: from the Delaware Indian word, meaning "mountains and valleys alternating"; the same as the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.

40 posted on 03/11/2003 9:42:55 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
Iroquois Confederacy

41 posted on 03/11/2003 9:51:33 PM PST by Consort
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Doesn't Seattle mean 48 degrees and raining?

No, Seattle was originally "Sealth" which means "Run for your lives!! A big yellow hot thing has appeared in the sky!!!"

42 posted on 03/11/2003 11:16:12 PM PST by Ramius
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To: Black Agnes
Very interesting.

Learned a lot here....I know all these places of course but I didn't know all the definitions.

Thanks.
43 posted on 03/12/2003 9:14:53 AM PST by wardaddy
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To: Black Agnes
pong!
44 posted on 03/12/2003 10:38:29 AM PST by stand watie (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. : Thomas Jefferson 1774)
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To: blam
and Tippecanoe still means, tippy canoe.
45 posted on 03/12/2003 10:40:34 AM PST by seams2me ("if they pass the reading test, it means they learned to read" GWB 1/8/03)
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To: blam; tubebender
Lol. Not a word about Billy Joe. (Some, to this day, say he faked the jump.

Tin foil alert! Billy Joe was pushed!

46 posted on 03/12/2003 10:48:06 AM PST by asformeandformyhouse
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To: asformeandformyhouse
"Tin foil alert! Billy Joe was pushed!"

I heard that rumor at the Harper Valley PTA meeting.

47 posted on 03/12/2003 11:17:47 AM PST by blam
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To: blam
I heard that rumor at the Harper Valley PTA meeting.

That wasn't your mother was it?

48 posted on 03/12/2003 11:37:53 AM PST by asformeandformyhouse
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Not a ping, just a GGG update.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

49 posted on 03/30/2005 10:45:57 PM PST by SunkenCiv (last updated my FreeRepublic profile on Friday, March 25, 2005.)
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To: Michael.SF.

What business is it of yours if I did or did not use any federal grant money in my research?-Chris McPhail


50 posted on 02/21/2006 12:56:39 PM PST by MissipRivers
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