Across the United States, many places have Native American names. While some colonists opted to name their newfound homes after their homeland, like New York, many adopted the Native American names used for the area or words from Native languages for geographical features nearby.
Of the places with Native American names, almost none are pronounced or spelled as they would have in their origin Native language. Language barriers between colonists and the inhabitants warped the spellings and pronunciations. Over time, the names became those we use today. In some places, like Arkansas, the proper pronunciation and spelling were hotly contested until the government finally stepped in and declared the one proper way to refer to the state in 1881 — the way we use to this day.
Close to half of all states and many major towns derive their names from a word or phrase in one of the many Native languages spoken across the country hundreds of years ago. In honor of Indigenous People’s Day, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the history of many parts of this country to find some of the places with names that have origins in Native American languages.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed media outlets like Thought Catalog and Mental Floss, as well as local and state historical societies, to find 50 places with Native American names.
This list is in no way comprehensive. There are hundreds of places that we know get their names from Native American tribes, words, and historical figures. Beyond that, many more etymologies are unknown but still likely come from the indigenous people of America.
To find 50 places with Native American names, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed media outlets like Thought Catalog and Mental Floss, as well as local and state historical societies.