STATES WITH INDIAN NAMES (You are Here)
The People: Native American Legacy
Alabama: From the Alibamu, tribe of Indians, members of the Creek Confederacy. The name may have come from words in the Choctaw language, "Alba ayamute" meaning "I clear the thicket."
Alaska: From the Aleut word "Alakshak", meaning "peninsula"; used by the aleuts in referring to the part of the mainland that is now known as the Alaskan peninsula.
Arizona: Not yet really proved, but possibly from Papago Indian words for "small springs," which the Spanish fitted to their own pronunciation.
Arkansas: From local Indians, The Quapaws, meaning "downstream people". Called arkansa by the French.
Connecticut: From the Indian expression "quinnitukg-ut", meaning "at the long tidal river."
Hawaii: Possibly from "Havaiki" or "Hawaiki," which according to legend was the name of the original homeland of the Polynesians.
Idaho: The New Book of Knowledge 1983 states: "According to the Idaho Blue Book, a settler corned the name and proposed it for the U.S. Territory created in 1861; it was rejected in favor of "Colorado" for that territory, but it became popular and was given to the territory (Idaho) created in 1863."
In the book, "How we Name our States" Pauline Arnold, 1965, says that the word might be derived from the following:
Illinois: From the Indian word "ilhiniwek" or "illiniwek". "Illini" meant "man" and the ending made the word plural. The French changed the word to illinois.
Indiana: From the word "Indian" plus the "a" ending used in many geographical names.
Iowa: From a Dakota Indian word: the name had many different spellings until it became "Ioway" and the "Iowa".
Kansas: From "Kansa", the name of a tribe of Indians who once lived in the area; first applied to the river, then to the state.
Kentucky: Probably related to the Iroquois Indian word "Kenta" -- "level" or "Meadow-land" referring to the level land in the south central part of the state.
Massachusetts: From Massachuset Indians, who lived around the Blue hills near Boston, meaning "about the big hill".
Michigan: Chippewa - "Michigama" meaning "Large lake" or "big water".
Minnesota: Dakota - "Minisota" meaning "White water".
Mississippi: Indian word meaning "big river". (Choctaw meaning "Great water" or "Father of Waters".)
Missouri: Indian mis meaning "big". "Owners of big canoes".
Nebraska: Oto Indians "Nebrathka" meaning flat water.
New Mexico: Named after an Aztec god named "Mertili".
Ohio: Iroquois - "Oheo" meaning "beautiful".
Oklahoma: Chocraw - "Oklahummaa" or "Oklahomma" meaning "red people".
South & North Dakota: "Dahkota" meaning allies or friends -- tribes who joined together in friendship.
Tennessee: Cherokee village "Tanasi" meaning "unknown".
Texas: Caddo Indians - "Techas" meaning allies or friends.
Utah: Ute Indians called themselves "Yuta" meaning people who live high in the mountains"
Wisconsin: "Wishkonsing" -- place of the beaver.
Wyoming: From Indian words meaning "On the Great Plain."
Source: Department of Cultural Affairs- Nevada State Library and Archives
Nevada State Library