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Old December 13th, 2011, 03:29 PM   #1
NordikNerd
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Why do some midwest cities have indian names and others not?

I presume that the cities of the Midwest have the highest percentage of native american names. Like Owatonna, Wasau and even Milwaukee, which probably is the biggest city with an indian name after Chicago, meaning Gathering place by the water. (as Alice Cooper explained in the motion picture Waynes World)

But why do some other cities have angosaxon names as Stillwater or Rochester, where there no indian settlements there ?

Some cities founded by swedes like Chisago City kept the native american name but others like Lindström, Karlstad or Mora used swedish ones.

Also why didn't the french rename Milwaukee to Laframboise in honor of its first settler Alexis Laframboise ? Others settlers like Juneau, Kilbourn or Walker also did not change the name? Maybe Cologne or Munich would be a more suitable name for Milwaukee du to the massive immigration of germans in the 1840's.

Are there any american cities which have changed names in the past, maybe from native american to a anglo saxon ones ?
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Old December 13th, 2011, 04:29 PM   #2
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Indianapolis used a combination of the English word Indiana (which means land of the Indians) and the Greek word for city: Polis to come up with Indianapolis. I don't know why some areas chose to use the native American (Indian) names for places and others chose other names. It seems to me like Wisconsin has more places with names that sound like they are native than almost anywhere else. Milwaukee, Menominee, Waukesha, Winnebago, Wautoma, Muskego, Osh Kosh, Manitowac, Waupaca, Wausau, Waunakee, Wausaukee, Pewaukee, Kenosha, Nekoosa, Packwaukee, etc. What does "Waukee" translate to in the native american language anyway? Anyone know?
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Old December 13th, 2011, 04:48 PM   #3
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Marinette was a Menominee Indian queen. Her name was derived from the French queen Marie Antoinette.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 05:00 PM   #4
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Now that I think about it a lot of Midwest cities are Indian names. Kansas City, Omaha, Sioux city, Sioux falls, Topeka, and Wichita.

There probably isn't any specific reasoning behind why some are Indian names and some are not, but while white settlement came into the Midwest (called Northwest back then), a lot of Indian tribes moved up to the Great Lakes so that might be why there is a lot of them in Wisconsin and all that.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 05:45 PM   #5
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Virtually all cities and towns in North America were founded by North Americans of European descent, so whether they got a Native American name is really just a matter of whether the settlers thought the name was culturally important or "pretty" for whatever reason.

Minneapolis for instance is a combination of the Sioux word Minne-, meaning "water", and "polis" which is Greek for city. So obviously it's a name birthed from vanity more than anything else.

In the US and Canada, you'll find place names coming from every European country, so it's not necessarily all Native American or English names.

By the way, Indian names are names like Ganesh, Patel, Rangarajan, Kapoor, etc.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 05:50 PM   #6
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A lot of Michigan cities were named after rivers with Native American origins. Manistee, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Muskegon, Cheboygan, etc.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 06:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifat View Post
Virtually all cities and towns in North America were founded by North Americans of European descent
There are quite a few cities that were either founded on or relatively close to a native american village. For example, the city of Wyandotte, MI (which is now basically a suburb of Detroit) was originally home to a Native American village founded in 1732 downriver from Detroit. The village was called Monguagon (which later became the name of a township just south of the village). It was abandoned by the early 1820's when the Natives were pushed out of the region. The current city of Wyandotte (named for the tribe who built the original village) dates to the 1850's and sits directly on the site of the former village.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 07:20 PM   #8
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Yeah, there are many cities/towns that were former Native American encampments, but they only became what we would consider cities/towns when the Europeans colonized and sent the aboriginals to worthless lands elsewhere.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 09:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarfieldPark View Post
Indianapolis used a combination of the English word Indiana (which means land of the Indians) and the Greek word for city: Polis to come up with Indianapolis. I don't know why some areas chose to use the native American (Indian) names for places and others chose other names. It seems to me like Wisconsin has more places with names that sound like they are native than almost anywhere else. Milwaukee, Menominee, Waukesha, Winnebago, Wautoma, Muskego, Osh Kosh, Manitowac, Waupaca, Wausau, Waunakee, Wausaukee, Pewaukee, Kenosha, Nekoosa, Packwaukee, etc. What does "Waukee" translate to in the native american language anyway? Anyone know?
Waukee means "land" or "place"

population of native americans in Wisconsin 42,500

population of native americans in Arizona is 250 000

still Arizona have fewer cities with native american names, Tucson is one of them.

I like the native american names of cities, they're unique. I mean how many Springfields and Rochesters aren't there out there, which easilly could get mixed up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hudkina View Post
A lot of Michigan cities were named after rivers with Native American origins. Manistee, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Muskegon, Cheboygan, etc.
Both Kalamazoo and Saginaw are featured in 2 famous songs, I especially like the the one where they sing "it took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw" Great song, which make me long for a midwest road roadtrip ! but unfortunately "Michigan seems like a dream to me now"

The question is are these languages becomming extinct ? Do native americans speak their language at home, do they teach Algonquian Navajo, Cherokee or O'odham-languages at school. Are there signs of any kind in native american languages ? I mean do some cities have dual names ? do native americans call cities like Green Bay something else ?

Last edited by NordikNerd; December 13th, 2011 at 10:35 PM.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 11:27 PM   #10
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When I was young, my family would take road trips down south. I was so accustomed to Native American town names that I found it bizarre that there were so many "villes" and "burgs" in the south. Native American names were the norm for me.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:13 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifat View Post
Yeah, there are many cities/towns that were former Native American encampments, but they only became what we would consider cities/towns when the Europeans colonized and sent the aboriginals to worthless lands elsewhere.
It wasn't really an encampment. In fact, it was quite developed for its time and is a major reason why the city of Wyandotte exists where it does today. The Wyandot were relatively friendly with the French in Detroit and the village of Monguagon was built in a style that was very similar to the village that existed at Detroit.

You can even find the name on many 18th and 19th century maps. Sorry for the massive size:
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Old December 15th, 2011, 04:20 PM   #12
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States have Indian names too. Missouri means "town of the large canoes" or something like that. Historians seem to disagree.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 06:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moochie View Post
Mississippi, Illinois (the Illinois Tribe was forced to leave, then they named the state after them...) North and South Dakota and of course Indiana come quickly to mind. Although Indiana doesn't quite fit the mold of this conversation.
state names that are rooted in native american languages:

Northeast:
Massachusetts
Connecticut


Midwest:
Ohio
Michigan
Illinois
Wisconsin
Minnesota
Iowa
Missouri
Kansas
Nebraska
South Dakota
North Dakota


South:
Kentucky
Tennessee
Alabama
Mississippi
Arkansas
Texas
Oklahoma


West:
Wyoming
New Mexico
Utah
Alaska

Arizona, Idaho, and Oregon, have disputed European/Native American roots.


the midwest clearly wins when it comes to state names. Indiana is the only state in the midwest without native american roots for its name ("Indiana" is Latin rooted).


and with 2,695,598 people, Chicago ("wild onion") is by far the largest US city with a native american name. Seattle (a local indian chief), with 608,660 people, is the 2nd largest, and Milwaukee ("gathering place"), at 594,833 people, is the 3rd largest.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; December 15th, 2011 at 07:57 PM.
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Old December 16th, 2011, 02:12 AM   #14
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This is an interesting observation about Native American/American Indian place names in the Midwest. Several of these names predate American settlement, but I think there are a couple of reasons why there are more American Indian place names in the Midwest.

"Chicago" predates the arrival of English in the Midwest; I've seen 17th Century maps at the Newberry Library that show "Chicagou", so that name predates the Americans. Between the east coast and perhaps about the 100th line of longitude, there tend to be quite a few American Indian names because Natives and colonists lived together for a couple of hundred years. Early traders and colonists would learn the indigenous names for places and adopt or Europeanize them - Wabash is the perfect example. There are also places like Baton Rouge - French for the the American Indian "red stick" confederacy. In the Southwest, many places have Spanish names, though there are also many in the Northwest too (Seattle, Spokane).

In much of New England and perhaps other parts of the 13 original colonies, settlers consciously tried to recreate their European home environments, with necessary adaptions for the new environment. This led, I suspect, to more European places names east of the Appalachians than west of them. Perhaps the desire to adopt American Indian place names was also less intense when there was fighting and war, as happened in the mid 1600s, when much of the area was being settled.

In the Great Lakes and Mid-South, there was a period of about 30 years when colonists and Indians lived in general harmony, especially between 1814 and about 1840 (except for the Black Hawk War of 1832), when most Indians west of the MIssissippi were forcibly moved beyond Missouri and Arkansas to Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Most white folks were confident by that time that the Indians would be "civilized" and would, as some have suggested here, melt into American society. In contrast with the earlier colonists in New England, who fought several bloody wars with various tribes - the new colonists in the Midwest could safely "honor" with place names those degraded Indians whose by-then "inevitable" decline was clear to see. With no bloody wars in memory, it becomes easier to "respect" one's victims. Perhaps the most likely answer is that these place names were easily adopted into the lingo by the early 1800s. This was the time that Noah Webster was creating his new American language via his dictionary, integrating many Indigenous words into American English.

I suspect that the relative peace - from the White perspective - of the 1815-1840 period might answer why there are more Native American place names in the Midwest. Most of the lower Great Lakes were also settled by this time, save for some swampy lands in northwests Ohio and Indiana.

It's also interesting to note that the major rivers in the Midwest, and the South? - among the most important natural features before industrialization-- are overwhelmingly Native in origin.
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Old December 17th, 2011, 04:30 AM   #15
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This is no different from any other part of the country. Everywhere from New England to Texas to the Northwest have places with a mixture of Native American to "Anglo" names.

Both Seattle and Tacoma are cities named (albeit Anglicized) after American Indian words. But just to our south is Portland which is as Anglo a name as you can get.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NordikNerd View Post
I presume that the cities of the Midwest have the highest percentage of native american names. Like Owatonna, Wasau and even Milwaukee, which probably is the biggest city with an indian name after Chicago, meaning Gathering place by the water. (as Alice Cooper explained in the motion picture Waynes World)

But why do some other cities have angosaxon names as Stillwater or Rochester, where there no indian settlements there ?

Some cities founded by swedes like Chisago City kept the native american name but others like Lindström, Karlstad or Mora used swedish ones.

Also why didn't the french rename Milwaukee to Laframboise in honor of its first settler Alexis Laframboise ? Others settlers like Juneau, Kilbourn or Walker also did not change the name? Maybe Cologne or Munich would be a more suitable name for Milwaukee du to the massive immigration of germans in the 1840's.

Are there any american cities which have changed names in the past, maybe from native american to a anglo saxon ones ?
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Last edited by Bond James Bond; December 17th, 2011 at 04:40 AM.
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Old December 17th, 2011, 04:38 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NordikNerd View Post
The question is are these languages becomming extinct ? Do native americans speak their language at home, do they teach Algonquian Navajo, Cherokee or O'odham-languages at school. Are there signs of any kind in native american languages ? I mean do some cities have dual names ? do native americans call cities like Green Bay something else ?
I work for an Indian tribe in the Seattle area. They've done a good job of recording and preserving the native language (called Lushootseed - pronounced "la-SHOOT-seed"), they've got a language department and classes in the local school which teach the language (don't know how many take the classes), but ALL of the tribal members speak English as their first language, though a few - mostly elders - speak Lushootseed fluently as a second language. For tribe I work for, the last native speaker of the language died around WWII.
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