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Where Did Your State Get Its Name?

Explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette arrived in the area now called Illinois in 1673. French settlers soon followed them. Illini, Algonquin and other Indians had lived in the area long before the French. They formed a united group of tribes and called themselves Illiniwek (superior men).  The name Illinois came from the French settlers’ spelling and pronunciation of Illiniwek.

Several bordering states also have names with Indian origins.

The name Iowa comes from the Iowa River and Iowa Indians. The tribal name means “one who puts to sleep.”

Michigan’s name means “large lake” and is derived from a Chippewa word.

The name Indiana means “land of the Indians.” Congress gave it the name when it created the Indian Territory in 1800.

The origins of  the name Wisconsin aren’t quite as clear and comes from an Ojibwa or Algonquin word. It means “gathering of the waters,” “wild rice country,” “home land,” “red stone place” or “great rock.”

 


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