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What Does Manigotagan Mean?

That question was asked of me at my favourite pub back in mid April. Google didn't have much on it so I asked on Facebook and lo and behold the answer came. The Anishinaabemowin phrase mannuh-gundahgan means bad throat. About five kilometres from the mouth of the Manigotagan River is a waterfall that the (Indigenous) locals described as making a noise like a bad sound in the throat. The person whom asked the question was grateful. Her drinking companion wanted to know what all these names mean.

Here are a few.

Winnipeg -- from the Nehiyawewin (Plains Cree) word winipek (all these names were adjusted for French or English phonetics). Most Winnipeggers know this one. The name was taken from the lake and it means a body of muddy water.

Not far from Lake Winnipeg is Lake Winnipegosis with its diminutive suffix. It means little muddy water. 

The province of Manitoba takes its name from what is now called The Narrows in the centre of Lake Manitoba. Called the Straits of Manitou (Great Spirit) back in the day it reads Manitou-wapow in Nehiyawewin and Manidoobaa in Anishinaabemowin. The province was originally to be named Assiniboia but Louis Riel changed it.

The Assiniboine River gets its name from the French transliteration of the Anishinaabemowin word for the Hohe Nakota Nation (asinii-bwaan, meaning stone Sioux). Now pretty much everyone refers to this nation as the Assiniboine. Their community Carry the Kettle may have the coolest name of any reserve in Canada.

And speaking of the northern half of Turtle Island, Kanata is an Iroquoian word that means village or settlement. Story has it that Jacques Cartier asked what the name of the area was but since he pointed at the village of Stadacona the translator assumed he was asking about the word for village. I can't speak to the story's historical accuracy but it made for a fun Heritage Minute. 

The province of Saskatchewan got its name from the Saskatchewan River. The river got its name from the Nehiyawewin phrase kisiskaciwani-sipy, swift flowing river.

Quebec and its capital get their names from the Algonquin word kebec, meaning where the river narrows. The river would be the St. Lawrence (won?t bother with the etymology for that one) and it narrows to a cliff lined gap near Quebec City.

Minnesota may be across an arbitrary border but it's still partly Anishinaabe territory. That being said Minnesota comes from a Dakota phrase and, like Saskatchewan, gets its name from a river. Dakota peeps back in the day demonstrated the name to early settlers by dropping milk in water and calling it Mnisota. Something may have been lost in translation however because mnisota means clear blue water in Dakota while mnibota means cloudy water.

Take the Dakota mni and combine it with the greek word for city and you get Minneapolis.

Ontario, named after the lake, got its name either from the Wendat word that means great lake or the Iroquoian word skanadario which means beautiful water.

The Wendat word for plenty is taranto and it was the name applied to a channel between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching. Somehow the name migrated to the mouth of the Humber River where Fort Toronto was established. 

Ottawa, also named after a river, was derived from the Algonquin word odawa, which means to trade. The Odawa are also an Indigenous nation that are referred to as traders by the Anishinaabe (adaawe) and the Potawatomi who use the more common spelling. 

I could go on and on but your editor probably wants some advertising space.

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