It's interesting how much old land-use planning we can learn from looking at place names around us.
In Tacoma, we have 'Wapato Lake', obviously once a good place to grow/harvest wapato.
And there's also a few prairies around, South Prairie near Lake Tapps, being the one I think of first. Maybe the prairie was once full of oak trees and camas.
Last night I was thinking about where my housemate goes to school, Clover Park, and thinking 'well that's a silly name, that doesn't tell us much'. But of course it does! I so often forget that clover doesn't always mean the shamrocks and leprechauns, but that many types of clover leaves and rhizomes are edible foods that were prized by the tribes around here.
What are some examples that you guys have where you live?
Some of my fave native american Okla. town names are the "We" towns: Weleetka, Wekiwa, Wewoka, Wetumpka.
Of course, I shouldn't forget the "Wa" towns: Wadena, Wakita, Washita, Washunga, Watonga, Watova, Waukomis, Waurika, Waynoka, not to mention Wapanucka!
Some okie town names are related to oil: "Slick", "Glenpool" & "Oilton" come to mind.
Okfuskee may well be my favorite of all time, I like to intentionally mispronounce it. (not around children, though!). But let's not forget Slapout, Hooker or Wheeless, Okla. LOL! I live in Bixby, not that unusual of a name.
Watching a weather forecast here is almost always entertaining, especially when we get a new reporter (from another state) who isn't familiar with all the names. Then there's pronunciation. If we are talking about Miami, Florida, say "My-am-mee". But if it's Miami, Ok., it's "My-am-mah"! Yikes!
posted 11 years ago
What do all the 'wa's mean wenvan?
And i've got another one to throw in on that theme 'wyandotte'. oh yes, i know ne oklahoma a little bit myself.
what can you figure those names tell us now about those places?
and yeah, i can see 'cow heaven' being a Huge clue. if you know enough to sleuth it all together. white people said cow heaven, meant it must have been good pasture land. Good pasture land before the white people would have been more like 'elk heaven'. Elk heaven would've been maintained by fire, and may have had some oak or camas guilds going on...
From the 'cow heaven' phrase you could go out now and root around for camas bulbs or acorns in the pits left by upturned doug fir rootballs or something...
That is a good question, Kelda. Being as the 5 civilized tribes (along with other tribes) were forced to relocate to Oklahoma, I imagine that most (if not all) of the "wa" names are of native american origin. This link mentions that Washita was actually a corrupt spelling of the indian "oauchita".
Here on Orcas Island we have Deer Harbor, Buck Bay, Buck Mountain, & Doe Bay. It points to our history as a hunting ground for the Hudson Bay Company. Deer were hunted here and sent down to Seattle by boat. There are no large predators here on the island. There is some speculation that the predators were eliminated even before the arrival of European settlers. The Native folks may have managed these islands as a hunters paradise as well.
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