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Town Names

Updated: 6-27-2011 11:17 AM

It is a little known fact that many of the names for towns that we use every day actually originated from the Ojibwe and Dakota people. The table below comes from the Minnesota Archaeology Office and is dated 1963.

 

Town

Indigenous Name

Meaning

Ada

BiToBiGoZibeeng

One river flowing above the other

Ah-gwah-ching

AhGwahChing

Outdoors

Aitkin

BahPaGoGeKeWaGag

Name of an old Indian

Anoka

Anokah

Both sides of the river (where they went to work)

Ball Club

Bahgahahdewahning

LaCrosse stick

Bejou

Bejou

Hello (was the first town on the White Earth Reservation reached by trains running south)

Bemidji

Baymigegummog

Lake which runs crosswise or diagonally in relation to a river

Bena

GeBahQuaEGonceSing

A place where there is a little dam; Boy River

Big Rice Lake

GahBahQuog

Shallow, boggy

Big Rice Lake (Lower Rice Lake)

GeChiNahNoMinNeeKahNing

Great rice harvesting place

Black Duck Point

GahGahGeShibBeNayYaShing

Black ducks (so known for the presence of black ducks)

Brainerd

OshKiODahNong

The new town (a central place for Indians before removal to White Earth Reservation)

Cass Lake

GahMiSquaWahSkoKog

Where there are many red cedar

Cass Lake

GahMiSquaWaAhKoGog

Red Cedar

Chaska

Cas Ke

First boy born

Chisago City

Chisahgahegon

Large Lake

Clearwater Lake

GahWahKahMig

Clear water

Cloquet

MohKoMahNiGunSing

Knife-shaped water (in reference to Lake Superior)

Crookston

AhZahDiMiNahQuong

Where there is a poplar grove

Edina

Edina

To catch fire

Elbow Lake

GahoDosQuaNeeGumMog

Body of water shape of elbow

Federal Dam

KeChiGeBahQuaEGon

A large dam

Fergus Falls

GahCahBiCong

The rock forms in squares

Fond du Lac

NahGahGeWonNong

Where you get off from your canoeing in the water (old trading place at mouth of St. Louis River)

Fosston

ODahNahWaunceSing

Little Town (a trading post in the 70s until Soo Line was built)

Granite Falls

Pejuta Zizi

Yellow medicine

Gull Lake

ZahShaGeinSeKahNing

Where cranes are many

Height of Land Lake

AhShaWayWaySeTahGenNing

Portage from one body of water to another

Ice Cracking Lake

Gah NahMahDwayQuaDing

Traveling sound of cracking ice

Island Lake

GahNeNesSeWong

Lake of islands

Island Lake

GahMeNesSeWong

Lake of Islands

Itasca

Mahkosz

Elk

Juggler Lake

GeSahKonNing

Juggler of medicine, his place of medicine ceremony

Lake George

NayWayZahGahEGon

Bull snake Lake

Lake Superior

ChiGaMe

Great lake

Leech Lake

GahZahGahSquaGeMahKog

Where the leeches are many

Lengy

NiBiSing

Small evergreens

Little Bemidji Lake

BayMeeGeGumMahSing

Small lake lying diagonally

Long Lake

Gahgenogummog

Long lake

Mahkonce

Mahkonce

Little bear

Mahnomen

Mahnomen

Wild rice

Manitou

Manido

Spirit

Mankato

Mahkato Oze

Place where one gets blue earth

Manomin

Manomin

Wild rice

Many Point Lake

GahMahMiNayMahNiWong

Where there are many shore points

Mendota

Bdote

Two Rivers Coming Together

Mille Lac Lake

Mini Wakan

Spirit (sacred) water

Minneapolis

Kabakong

Falls (name applied by MN Ojibway)

Minnesota

Mini Sota

Cloudy water

Mississippi

Gechizebe

Great river

Nebish

Nebish

Tea

Nett Lake

AhSahBiQueNayZahGahEGon

Lake enclosed as by lifting fog as by a net

Ogema

Ogema

Chief (named for its nearness to White Earth, principal settlement and government agency headquarters)

Owatonna

Owatonna Uzu

To go straight or correctly

Park Rapids

BahGeDahBahNing

Where they unload

Pelican Lake

ShaDayZahGahEGon

Pelican Lake

Pine Point

ShingQuohKoMiNayWahMing

Pine place point (years ago covered with Norway pine supplying bark for houses)

Pipestone

Chanopa-Okapi

To dig for pipe

Ponemah

Bahnemah

After awhile

Red Lake

Mesquagahwewisahgahegon

Red water

Round Lake

GahWahWeYeaGumMog

Round body of water

Roy Lake

GahJahGeKugGeWayGomMog

Lake enclosed by steep bluff banks

Shakopee

Sak Pe

Six

Shakopee Lake

NaySahWeGomMog

Middle Lake

St. Anthony Falls

Kabakong

Falls

St. Paul

Imijaskaka

White cliffs

Steamboat Lake

GahBahKahZahGeDahWog

Outlet from the main stream

Stillwater

Gegohnahaquanodq

Fish as they lie very still in the water

Strawberry Lake

GahODahENeNeeKog

Where strawberries abound

Tamarack Lake

GahMushKeQuaTigOKog

Tamarack forest

Thief River Falls

GeMoDahSkiOZibi

A thief river (no reference to the falls)

Tulaby Lake

ODeNeeBiSiKahNing

Where tulabies abound

Twin Lakes

GahNeeZhoGomMog

Two lakes together

Upper Rice Lake

MahNoMiNeeKahNing

Rice harvesting place

Wabasha

Wapasha

Red fall color leaf

Waseca

Wazichan

Pine wood

Washkish

Wahwahskishshi

Deer

Waubun

Waubun

Daylight (so named because the early train running south reached it at daybreak

Wayzata

Wazi Yata

North

White Earth Lake

GahNahBahBiGonEKagZahGaEGon

Grayish clay earth lake

Winnibigoshish

Winnibigoshish

Hazy, filthy water