blogging became known.
I grew up in the Land of Sky Blue Waters, at a Bend in the Big River.
This translates to: I grew up in Minnesota, at Cohasset, on the
To us, Cohasset was 'The Capitol of the World.' Perhaps it was... To a child, looking at a map of North America, its central location could easily lend credence to such a claim.
There was a Grand Rapids on that Big River, that had become the name of a much larger, nearby town where I attended high school. Our sporting teams were Indians, our mascot, Tommy Hawk.
Minnesota, Cohasset and Mississippi are words of the Native American Indians.
We were surrounded by places, lakes, counties, regions, called by such names as: Pokegema, Itasca, Tioga, Mesabi, Arrowhead, Koochiching, Bemidji, Winnibigoshish --- terms that rolled off our tongues as clearly as if they were English.
Beautiful sunset on Pokegema Lake
Above our state were the Canadian Provinces, Manitoba, Ojibway for 'spirit
strait', and Ontario, Iriquois for 'fine lake.'
I was the only 'foreigner' in my family, as I was born 'out of state'. However, that state, Wisconsin, also carries an Algonquin Indian name, and the location of my birth was on the banks of the greatest of the Great Lakes --- Superior, in a town of the same name.
I was the fair-haired, blue-eyed, short, but sturdily-built, example of Scandinavian/Nordic physique, yet I was told I was 'mostly' English. My family name was Fuller, certainly English --- but wait. My grandmother's name was Outcalt. 100% German. Added in was Dutch and French-Canadian. What? I was adult before I discovered the term 'French-Canadian' shamefully covered up some of my proud heritage --- Sioux Indian. My other grandmother was a Bowman! Now I know why I always wear moccasins.
Born in Wisconsin, raised in Minnesota, I have also lived in Florida, Tennessee and now, Ohio. Of these last three, only Florida is not from an Indian origin, yet I lived in Seminole, Florida. Tennessee is from a Cherokee village, its meaning unknown. And Ohio is named for the Iriquoian 'Fine (or large) River' formed by the Monongahela (Algonquin, meaning unknown) and the Allagheny (American Indian with an unclear meaning) Rivers.
Of the five states I have lived in, four have Indian names. And Florida is ripe with Indian influence --- Miami, Okeechobee, Apalachicola, Osceola, Ocala, Tallahassee, Suwannee, Immokalee. I love that one. We went through Immokalee, a little shanty town. That was a 'trip.'
So, what of the 45 other states? Immediately I thought of the Dakotas. Dakota is Sioux, meaning 'to think of as friend'. I went 'exploring', with the help of my Webster's New World Dictionary and my (1990) Rand McNally Road Atlas. What d'ya say, Kimosabe? Let's review:
1. ALABAMA Choctaw, place and tribal name.
2. ALASKA Eskimo (of course), native name for mainland portion of NE North America.
3. ARIZONA American Spanish, 'Little Springs'.
4. ARKANSAS Sioux, tribal name, 'Downstream People'.
5. CALIFORNIA Spanish, original name of a fabled island.
6. COLORADO Spanish name of the river, Rio Colorado, Red River, meaning 'the color red'.
7. CONNECTICUT Algonquin, 'Place of the long river'.
8. DELAWARE Tribe of Algonquin Indians, however, named for Baron De La Warr.
9. FLORIDA Spanish, 'abounding in flowers'.
10. GEORGIA For King George II
11. HAWAII Polynesian, meaning unknown.
12. IDAHO Shoshonean name, meaning unknown.
13. ILLINOIS Algonquin, 'Man, member of the tribe'.
14. INDIANA Latin, meaning 'Land of the Indians'.
15. IOWA Sioux, 'Sleepy Ones', a scornfull appelation.
16. KANSAS Sioux, name of tribe and river.
17. KENTUCKY Iriquois, 'Level Land, Plain'.
18. LOUISIANA French, La Louisianne, after Louis XIV.
19. MAINE From 2 French men, probably from its being the main part of the New England region.
20. MARYLAND For Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I.
21. MASSACHUSETTS Algonquin, 'At the big hill', blue hill near Boston.
22. MICHIGAN Algonquin, 'Great Water'.
23. MINNESOTA Sioux, 'Milky (Sky) Blue Water'.
24. MISSISSIPI Algonquin, 'Big River'.
25. MISSOURI Algonquin, 'People of the big canoes'.
26. MONTANA Latin, mountainous region.
27. NEBRASKA Sioux, name of Platte River, 'Flat Water'.
28. NEVADA No origin given, mountain state.
29. NEW HAMPSHIRE After Hampshire, country on the southern coast of England.
30. NEW JERSEY After Jersey, British Island in the English Channel.
31. NEW MEXICO After Mexico, Spanish name of the Aztec War God.
32. NEW YORK After the Duke of York and Albany.
33. NORTH CAROLINA Feminine of Charles I.
34. NORTH DAKOTA Sioux, 'To think of as friend'.
35. OHIO Iriquoian, 'Fine (or large) River'.
36. OKLAHOMA Choctaw, 'People' and 'Red'.
37. OREGON American Indian, 'Birch Bark Dish'.
38. PENNSYLVANIA After William Penn or his father, plus Latin sylvanina, 'Wooded Land'.
39. RHODE ISLAND Dutch, 'Red Island'.
40. SOUTH CAROLINA Feminine of Charles I.
41. SOUTH DAKOTA Sioux, 'To think of as friend'.
42. TENNESSEE Cherokee village, meaning unknown.
43. TEXAS Spanish/American Indian, meaning unknown.
44. UTAH Ute/Shoshonean, 'Hill Dwellers'.
45. VERMONT French, 'Green Mountain'.
46. VIRGINIA For the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I.
47. WASHINGTON After George, of course.
48. WEST VIRGINIA For the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I.
49. WISCONSIN Algonquin, name of river flowing into Mississippi, meaning unknown.
50. WYOMING Algonquin, 'Large Plains'.
So there we have, hidden in plain sight, for all of us to speak with our forked tongues, a plethora of our Native American ancestor's language.
Don't think I'm not proud of our forefathers, either, for further digging has
revealed I am a direct descendent of that Green Mountain Boy, Ethan Allen, of
Ticonderoga fame, as well as abolition martyr, John Brown. It seems a
granddaughter of Ethan, married one of John's sons, or later descendent. This
union produced a daughter, Mary Brown, who was my Grandmother Outcalt's
grandmother. This indeed makes me feel 'twice blessed', even though my Indian
heritage had been withheld from me.
My goodness, Grandma Outcalt ---
there was an Indian in your cupboard!
In the lineage to Mary Brown there was an Indian Princess. So I have Indian
blood on both sides of my parentage! Great Sioux City Sue! It wasn't just my
mother's heritage they were trying to cover. I am ashamed they were so
With clearly half of our United States bearing Native American names, as well as places throughout North America, Provinces, lakes, rivers, tributaries, towns, cities, trees, flowers... it reminds me a Rose by any other name is still a Rose.
North America, like myself, on a broad scope, encompasses the great influence of those who were here when the colonists/immigrants came over, pointing out places, no doubt already named, and they not only lapped it up, but stole it away, interbred, and then hid the facts in shame.
No, the rose is not an Indian word, but we need to take our rose-colored glasses off and look at our American Beauties with clearer understanding. Just as the rosacae family includes strawberries, apples, peaches and almonds, our continent includes Native American Heritage for us all.
Whether you're goin' to Winnemucca, Yakima or Timbuktu, you know exactly
what I mean.
©Vista 15 - 1999