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THE MEANING OF INDIAN AMERICAN TRIBAL NAMES

 

                        November 23, 2001 PHIL KONSTATIN

 

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Phil Konstantin, the author of the information provided below, personally prefers the term American Indian, thus I have entitled this page to reflect his preferences. His site/s is/are many and wonderful to visit and find treasure "stuff" in…(G). Do yourself a favor and visit him, many times!

    Ever wonder what various tribal names mean? The following is used with permission from: Phil Konstantin -(copyright 1996-2001), a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma www.americanindian.net 

     Many tribal names mean "People," "Us," "human beings," or similar words. The names below are for those groups whose name means something other than "People," "Us," "human beings," or similar words. Some tribes names were acquired from Europeans using a second tribe's name for the first tribe. The "New Name" was used so much, it gained an "official" status or became the common name. In many cases, tribal name origins are lost in the mists of history. Some definitions below are based on conjecture by historians. In some cases, some tribal members would agree with the names below, while other members will not. In essence, this is a list of commonly used definitions. 

abnaki:

those living at the sunrise (easterners)
achomawi:  river
acolapissa: those who listen and see
ahtena:  ice people
akwesasne: land where the partridge drums
alabama: I clear the thicket
apache: enemy (zuni word)
apalachicola:  people of the other side
apalachee: people of the other side
arikara: horns or elk people, or corn eaters
assiniboin:  ones who cook using stones (ojibwa word)
atakapa:  man eater
atikamekw: white fish
atsina: white clay people
atsugewi:  hat creek indians
avoyel: people of the rocks
bayogoula:  people of the bayou
bidai: brushwood (caddo word)
brule:  burned thighs
caddo: true chiefs
cayuga:  place locusts were taken out, people at the mucky land
cayuse: stones or rocks (French-Canadian word)
chakchiuma: red crawfish people
chehalis: sand
cherokee: cave people (choctaw word), people of different speech (creek word) 
chetco: close to the mouth of the stream
cheyenne: red talkers (dakota word)
chickahominy:  hominy people
chickamauga:  dwelling place of the chief (creek word)
chipwyan:  pointed skins (cree word)
chitimacha: they have cooking vessels
chontal: stranger (nahuatl word)
choula: fox
chowanoc: people at the south
chumash:  people who make the shell bead money
clallam: strong people
clatsop: dried salmon
cocopah:  river people 
comanche: anyone who wants to fight me all the time (ute word)
cowichan:  basking in the sun that warms your back or warm land
crow:  crow, sparrowhawk, bird people
dakota:  allie
erie: log tail or cat people (iroquois word)
fox: red earth people
git' lissums:  people of the Lissums
gitksan: people of the northern Skena
gros ventre:  big bellies, one who cooks with a stone, he cooks by roasting (see atsina)
hach winik:  true people
han: those who live along the river
havasupai: people of the blue green water
hiute:  bowmen
honniasont:  wearing something around the neck
hopi:  peaceful ones or well-mannered people
houma: red
huchnom:  mountain people
hunkpapa:  campers at the opening of the circle
hupa:  trinity river
huron:  ruffian, head of a boar (french words)
hwal'bay  (hualapai):  people of the tall pines 
ihanktonwan:  dwellers at the end
ihanktonwana: little dwellers at the end 
iowa:  sleepy ones (dakota word)
iroquois: real adders (snake) or we of the extended lodge
jatibonicu:  people of the great sacred high waters
jatibonuco: great people of the sacred high waters
jicaque:  ancient person (nahuatl word)
jicarilla: little basket weaver (spanish word)
kainai: many chiefs

kakwchak:

porcupine people
kan-hatki: white earth
kanienkahaka: people of the place of flint

kanza: 

people of the south wind
karok:  upstream
kato: lake
kawchottine: people of the great hares
ketsei:  going in wet sand
kickapoo: he stands about
kiowa: principal people
klallam: strong people 
klamath: people of the lake
kotsoteka: buffalo eaters
kutcha-kutchin: those who live on the flats
kwuda: people coming out
lakota: friend or ally (same with dakota & nakota)

latgawa:

those living in the uplands

lenni lenape:

genuine men
lillooet: wild onion
lipan: warriors of the mountains
machapunga: bad dust
mahican: wolf
makah: cape people
maliseet:  broken talkers
massachuset: at the hills
mdewankantonwan: dwellers of the spirit lake
menominee: wild rice men
miami:  people on the peninsula, cry of the crane, pigeon 
michigamea: great water
miniconjou: planters by water
missouri: great muddy, people with wooden canoes
moapa: mosquito creek people
moatokni: southerners
modoc: southerners
mohave: three mountains
mohawk: the possessors of the flint, coward or man eater (abenaki words)
mohegan: wolf
moneton: big water people
munsee: at the place where the stones are gathered together
nahane: people of the west
narragansett: people of the small point
nanticoke: people of the tidewaters
natsit-kutchin: those who live off the flats
navajo: cultivated field in an arroyo (tewa word)
nipmuck: freshwater fishing place
nisga'a: people of the Nass River
nokoni: those who turn back
nooksack: mountain men
nootka: along the coast
oglala: scatters their own
ojibwa: to roast till puckered up
okelousa: blackwater
okmulgee: where water boils up
omaha: upstream people or people going against the current
oneida: a boulder standing up, people of the standing stone
onondaga: people on top of the hills
opata: hostile people (pima word)
ottawa: to trade
otto: lechers 
pahodja: dusty nones
pakiutlema: people of the gap
pamunkey: rising upland
pantch-pinunkansh: men altogether red
papagos: desert people, bean people
papinashuash: the ones who like to laugh
pascagoula: bread people
passamaquoddy: plenty of pollock
paugusset: where the narrows open out
pawnee: horn people, men of men, look like wolves
penateka:  honey eaters
pennacook: down hill
penobscot: it forks on the white rocks or the descending ledge place, at the stone place
pensacola: hair people,  
people of the lakes: tribes near the great lakes 
peoria: carrying a pack on his back
pequot: fox people or destroyers
piegan: scabby robes
piekuakamit: the ones from the flat lake
piikani: poor robe
pilthlako: big swamp
pima: river people, (papago word for "I don't know")
pojoaque: drinking place 
potawatomi: people of the place of the fire, keepers of the fire, (fire nation, fire people)
powhatan: falls in a current of water
pshwanwapam: stony ground
puyallup: shadow
quahadi: antelope
quapaw: downstream people
quinnipiac: long water country 
sac: people of the yellow earth or people of the outlet
salish: flatheads
sans arc: without bows
schaghticoke: at the river forks
sekani: dwellers on the rocks
seminole: separatist, runaway or breakaway, peninsula people
seneca: place of stone, people of the standing rock, great hill people
shawnee: south or southerners
sihasapa sioux: lackfeet
siksika: blackfeet or black foot
sioux: snake (french version of other tribe's name)
sisitonwan: dwellers of the fish ground
skokomish: river people
taino: we the good people
takelma: those living along the river
tanima: liver eaters
tangipahoa: corn gatherers
tantawats: southern men
tatsanottine: people of the copper water
tawakoni: river bend among red hills
tejas: friendly
tenawa: down stream

tennuth-ketchin:

middle people
teton: dwellers of the prairie
tewa: moccasins
thlingchadinne: dog-flank people
tinde: people of the mountains

titonwan:

dwellers of the plains
tonawanda: confluent stream
tonkawa: they all stay together or most human of people
tsattine:  lives among the beavers
tsetsaut: people of the interior (niska word)
tsimshian: people of the river
tsuu t'ina: great number of people
tubatulabal: pinenut eaters (shoshone word)
tuscarora: hemp gatherers, the shirt wearing people
two kettle: two boilings
unalachtgo: tidewater people
vunta-ketchin: those who live among the lakes 
wahpekute: shooters among the leaves
wahpetonwan: dwellers among the leaves
wailaki: north language (wintun word)
wakokai: blue heron breeding place
walapai: pine tree people
wallawalla: little river
wampanoag: eastern people
wappo: brave
waptailmin: people of the narrow river
wasco: cup, those who have the cup
wichita: big arbor (choctaw word), raccoon eyes
winnebago: filthy water people
wiwohka: roaring water
wyandot: people of the peninsula, islanders

yakima:

runaway, pregnant people, people of the narrows
yamparika: rooteaters or yapeaters
yavapai: people of the sun, crooked mouth people
yoncalla: those living at ayankeld
yuchi:  situated yonder
yuki: stranger (wintun word)
yurok: downstream (karok word)

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