A compendium of Indian-derived names from the three languages of the Muskhogean family—Seminole, Hitchiti, and Choctaw.
The first Native peoples of what is now the United States who met and interacted with Europeans were the people of the lower Southeast. They were individuals of the larger Maskókî linguistic family who inhabited much of present-day Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and eastern portions of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Today, sixteen federally recognized tribes trace their heritage from these early Maskókî peoples, and many of them in both Florida and Oklahoma still speak and understand this root language.
The continuing vitality of this core language, and of Seminole culture and influence, makes this linguistic examination by William Read ever more valuable. A companion to his study of Indian Place Names in Alabama, this long out-of-print guide offers a new introduction from Patricia Wickman in which she provides current understandings of Seminole language and derivations and a brief analysis of Read's contribution to the preservation of the Native linguistic record.
"Of all the states of the American union, none has a name that has been spelled in more ways, or interpreted more variously, than Wisconsin. Among the spellings listed are Mesconsin, Meskousing, Mishkonsing, Ouisconsens, Ouisconsin, Ouisconsing, Ouiscousing, Ouiskonsin, Owisconsing, Quisconsing, Weeskonsan, Wisconsan, Wisconsin, Wishkonsing, and Wiskonsin. The name has been attributed to the French, Menominee, Ojibwa, Potawatami, Sauk-Fox, and Winnebago languages."
Place names are cultural artifacts that tell us as much about how people lived as do relics dug from the ground, writes Virgil Vogel, one of America's foremost authorities on place names. They are historical records from which the location and migration of people, plants, and animals can be charted. Onalaska and Aztalan, not surprisingly, are place names transplanted to Wisconsin from the far north and south. Some names tell of topographic features that have long since disappeared or are little noticed today. Beaver Dam once had an Indian name meaning just that; Sheboygan, "big pipe" in Ojibwa, described the shape of a river bend. Other names are vestiges of ancient languages nowhere else recorded. Some commemorate historic events: Winneconne is believed by many to mean "place of the skulls."
The Indian names of Wisconsin's towns, rivers, and lakes reveal the minds of the Indian peoples, their cosmic views, their values, their relation to their environment , and their ways of life and convey as well something of the history of their white invaders.
Virgil Vogel's thirty years of research into Native American influence on geographical names has resulted in an absorbing account that illuminates the history and culture of Wisconsin Indians. Vogel tells his story thematically—names from the spirit world, names of trails and portages, French-Indian personal names, tribal names, and so on—to show that place names are part of a larger cultural and natural world. In recovering the history and meaning of these names, he has restored an important and colorful part of America's heritage.
Indian Place Names in Alabama
William A. Read, and revised edition by James B. McMillan University of Alabama Press, 1984 Library of Congress E78.A28R43 1984 | Dewey Decimal 917.6100321
"What is the 'meaning' of names like Coosa and Tallapoosa? Who named the Alabama and Tombigbee and Tennessee rivers? How are Cheaha and Conecuh and Talladega pronounced? How did Opelika and Tuscaloosa get their names? Questions like these, which are asked by laymen as well as by historians, geographers, and students of the English language, can be answered only by study of the origins and history of the Indian names that dot the map of Alabama.—from the Foreword
Originally published by Professor Read in 1937, this volume was revised, updated, and annotated in 1984 by James B. McMillan and remains the single best compedium on the topic.
His writings spanned five decades and have been instrumental across a wide range of academic disciplines. Most importantly, Read devoted a good portion of his research to the meaning of place names in the southeastern United States—especially as they related to Indian word adoption by Europeans.
This volume includes his three Louisiana articles combined: Louisiana: Louisiana Place-Names of Indian Origin (1927), More Indian Place-Names in Louisiana (1928), and Indian Words (1931). Joining Alabama's reprint of Indian Places Names in Alabama and Florida Place Names of Indian Origin and Seminole Personal Names, this volume completes the republication of the southern place name writings of William A. Read.