Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
WASHINGTON As National American Indian Heritage Month continues, many people across the country may not be aware that the states they live in have names derived from American Indian or Alaska Native words.
Native Girls at Haskell Institute
in Lawrence, Kansas in 1910
In fact, the names of over 20 states are derived from American Indian or Alaska Native words:
Alabama - Name comes from Alabama River by early European explorers and named "Alibamu#34; after the local Indian tribe.
Alaska - Aleut word meaning "great land"or "that which the sea breaks against."
Arizona - The name derived from the O'odham Indian word for "little spring."
Arkansas - Name comes from the Quapaw Indians.
Connecticut - Name derived from an Indian word "Quinnehtukqut" "beside the long tidal river."
Illinois - Name comes from an Algonquin word for "tribe of superior men."
Indiana - Word that means "land of Indians."
Iowa - Named after the Ioway Indian tribe.
Kansas- Derived from a Sioux word meaning "people of the south wind."
Kentucky - Derived from an Iroquoian word "Ken-tah-ten" meaning #34;land of tomorrow."
Massachusetts - Name comes from Massachusett tribe of Native Americans, meaning "at or about the great hill."
Michigan - Name comes from an American Indian word "Michigana" meaning "great or large lake."
Minnesota - Name comes from a Dakota Indian word meaning "sky-tinted water."
Mississippi - Name come from an Indian word meaning "Father of Waters."
Missouri - Named after the Missouri Indian tribe. "Missouri" means "town of the large canoes."
Nebraska - Name derived from an Oto Indian word meaning "flat water."
North Dakota - Name comes from the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies."
Ohio- Name comes from an Iroquoian word meaning "great river."
Oklahoma - Name comes from two Choctaw Indian words meaning "red people."
South Dakota - Name comes from the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies."
Tennessee - The exact meaning is unknown; though many think name is derived from a Cherokee word.
Texas - Name comes from an Indian word meaning "friends."
Utah - Name comes from the Ute tribe, meaning "people of the mountains."
Wisconsin - Name origin comes from name given to the Wisconsin River by Algonquian speaking tribe.
Wyoming - Name comes from the Delaware Indian word, meaning "mountains and valleys alternating" the same as the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.
posted November 20, 2012 8:10 am est