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There is a tradition, I think mentioned by the historian Bancroft, that makes the meaning of the aboriginal name of the Hudson simply “The Great River." The Hudson has had many tribal appellations, mere dialectic distinctions. But the title that appears to be the oldest, the one most in conformity with the recognized models of the aborigines; is the word MAHAQUA. This appears first historically in connection with one of the oldest tribes along the river (see Am. Cyclopedia, vol. i., p. 188.) But it is a well known fact that the aboriginal nations usually received their tribal distinctions or appellations from the name of the river upon which the people were first found by the early white explorers here. This is in accordance with a custom which has obtained in all ages of the world. The conclusion is therefore legitimate that the name MAHAQUA was first applied to the river. We are supported in this conclusion by all the historical facts pertaining to the name. The same name lingers still in a corruption of the old word, a name which applies yet to a tributary of the great river. This corruption is the word “Mohawk."* Other corruptions of the ancient names exist in “Mohegan ” and “Mohican" (which are identical illustrating an outgrowth from the primal word, and illustrating also the kinship between the terms OGHA, ACHA and AQUA.)+
The name MAHAQUA is pure Latin-acknowledging the prefix “ Mah' to be but the Latin abbreviation (Sanscrit root) of the word magnus. We have not space in this Magazine for analyses of all the native Indian names showing the abbreviations of the Latin magnus. There is one illustration, however, we cannot omit in this paper. The early explorers of the coast lands of North Carolina and Virginia found the natives almost everywhere in their discoveries using the term "OCCAM" (or aquam ?) in referring to large bodies of water. (See Hawks' History of N. C.) A large Carolina lake is now known as WACCAMAW (Aquamah).
The word “ OCCAM" illustrates a distinct Latin idiom—the Latin being
* That this is a corruption of Mahaqua-see Am. Cyclo., reference just given.
+ Learned men differ with reference to these words. One school maintains that “Mohican” is correct, while another equally confident contends that it is “Mohegan." Such names show the uncertainty attaching to our modern transcripts of the sounds conveyed in the native language. It is hard to distinguish “egan" from "ican” on the tongue of a foreigner. Our word MICHIGAN —which Lippincott (Pro. Gaz.) says means “ great water ”—is almost identical in pronunciation with the native Mexican name written MICHIOCAN. Oregon is supposed to mean river of gold. If this conjecture is well founded the orthography should be Auregan, revealing at once the Latin origin.
# This same authority-Hawks' Hist. of N. C.-says that wherever the whites went the Indians greeted them with the expression of a word, written by the explorers "bonny.” Whence comes this word if not in the bonus of the Latin-the immemorial “good morning," or “ good day"?
one of the few dead languages that allows the terminal in a consonant: the Greek forbids it. There are many Latin idioms illustrated curiously in the Indian names. We shall cite some interesting examples before closing this paper. Before proceeding with them we desire to notice a group of names revealing a descriptive about which there can be no question as to its legitimate location in the Latin language, if comparative illustrations and analyses can demonstrate truth.
In some of our Northwestern States the term “Minne” is often found in the native Indian names of waters—as MINNESOTA, MINNEOAH, MINNEWAUKIN, MINNETONQUA, MINNEHAHA, etc. It is very evident that there was some conspicuous natural fact which gave birth to the expression Minne" in the mind of the early aborigines.
What was this fact? Science, with its many voices, gives utterance to eloquent truths in our behalf. Geology and physiography enfold their testimonies. The blunt, plain English pioneer of modern times pushes into that same Northwestern country, and everywhere the same suggestive natural facts present themselves, and they are marked down on our maps in the terse and vigorous expression of his vernacular-simply the Red, or the Vermilion ;-and if we look into the geographical literature of the country there, we shall find "the Great Red River" (of the North), “ Vermilion Lake," "Red Lake," etc., etc., etc. Underlying the country are vast deposits of red clay, red sandstone, and verinilion earth. Many of the waters there have in consequence the reddish tinge. These are the natural facts so prominent and suggestive there. They were equally impressive upon the mind of early pioneers whether in the few decades ago or in the far centuries gone by. Each of these pioneers took from his vernacular its most expressive word, and left it as a perpetual memorial of birth and origin. And if we open our authorities on language, we find in the Indian “minne" merely the Latin minio, which in plain English means precisely the red, or the red vermilion clay.
It would be difficult to find verbal testimonies more conclusive than in those Minnesota names. There is not in them an isolated expression of a fact-the evidences are numerous and unmistakable. And yet if we attempt a more careful analysis of some of the names we are met with cumulative testimonies. The legend says that MINNE-TON-QUA means "thundering water." The Latin has tono for thundering--and the “ qua " is but an abbreviation of aqua. MINNEIAHA reveals one of the Roman idioms referred to in a previous paragraph. The word contains, as a term for river, the Teutonic AHA, the equivalent of Celtic ACHA. The name is supposed to have applied originally to what is now known as the “Great Red
River of the North.” It is no unusual occurrence for an interchange of names to be found in our growing country. In more modern times two of the Texas rivers have changed names. The Brazos was once known as the Colorado, and the present Colorado was known then as Brazos. Other examples could be cited. The poetical associations of MINNEHAHA have had much to do in its history. (I would not detract from the memory or fame of the grand old bard who has immortalized that word; rather would I lay additional honors about his own immortal name.)
In analyzing the word MINNE-H-AHA we discover what might appear as a superfluous h, yet, if we are right in our conclusions, the letter is there for a definite purpose. It is there as an expressive factor in the name. If we were to suppose the name meant simply “red water,” we should perhaps do injustice to the Indian's art and knowledge. Let us probe the problem deeper.
By reference to our standard authorities on the Latin language, we find that the letter H is often the abbreviation of the word habeo, which, with most vigorous translation, means to hold. The word MINNEHAHA would therefore mean, with a liberal construction, River that holds the red or vermilion clay. This is demonstrated by the actual physical facts :-the waters do hold the red element for a long distance.
Have we other examples illustrating this idiom? In the Southern States are many rivers that flow through low alluvial soils and often in banks of a loose, friable clay. These banks are continually “falling in," * and hence the waters are always muddy. The TALLA-HA-CHIE is a noted illustration. We have the river term in this word in the Celtic ACHA. The intermediate h indicates the habeo or holding the talla. What is “talla"?
A reference to our Latin shows us that terra and tella are identical in that language. The Southern Indians very rarely used r: and “talla is but a corruption of tella, the earth, or the earthy débris held in solution in these muddy Southern rivers. Those who know from observation the character of those rivers, know that this earthy débris (represented by the “talla") is one of the distinguishing features of those rivers.
One of the Alabama rivers which is always muddy (where I have known it) is the TALLA-P-OOSA. This word is replete with suggestiveness and truth. The river term here is “oosa." This is considered an old Saxon word for water (see Webster—"ousa”). It is, however, found in ancient
* Tradition says MONONGAHELA means “falling-in-bank river.” The suffix “ela" is easily located in the Latin elabor, which means to fall out, or slip away; hence the Indian “falling in Our English word elude perhaps has same parent.
river nomenclature in every quarter of the world. It is often in the native Indian names. It is doubtless a corruption of either ACHA or OGHA.
We see in the name, as we have it divided, TALLA-P-OOSA, three factors; a descriptive prefix in “talla"; with the suffix "oosa," an acknowledged river word. What are the functions of the other element in the word--the simple letter p? Indisputable testimonies give response to our query.
First, what is the other natural fact in connection with this muddy river? It is a very powerful stream. The immemorial legend says that the word means a “swift current" or "swift water.” Well, swift waters are generally waters of power. But do the verbal facts coincide with these testimonies? Opening our Latin authorities again, we find that this letter p is a recognized Roman abbreviation of the word pondo, which means powerful. These are facts which the most skeptical cannot reject.
This tell-tale letter P-like the neighboring one M-is a curious exponent of verbal and historical facts. It is found in many native Indian names where the rivers are rivers of great available water power. (All great rivers have a certain element of “power.” But we are now considering the available feature of that power.) Some of the most noted rivers in America, where the motive power is developed or available, have this letter P in the title. The POTAPSCO is the most powerful river of Maryland. The SAXA-P-AHAW turns more machinery than all the other North Carolina rivers. The WINNEPEG, the WINNEPESOCKET (or really the Winne-pisc-aqua), the PENOBSCOT, the RAPPAHANNOCH, the (Upper) POTOMAC, and many others having the letter P in the Indian name, are all noted for their water powers.
(The POTOMAC betrays either Greek origin [in potamus-river) or in poto and the abbreviation of magnus-mag or mac. Virginia has many rivers that reveal both Latin and Greek in their “native Indian names." There are for instance FLUVANNA (from the Latin fluvious--river) and also RiVANNA—from rivus, another Latin word for river. RAPIDANNA and RAPPAHAXXOCK also show Latin words.)
There are some very interesting and suggestive facts in connection with several of the examples cited in the above paragraphs-independent of the mere Latin theory. Let us indicate specially the SAXA-P-AHA, the PENOB-SCOT (or the Penapsca) and the POTAPSCO. The former contains the pure Teutonic term AHA, and also the Latin root of our English word for rocky-Sarcum. This Latin word, however, has its remote origin in the Sanscrit Sax, or Ska,
Scholars are familiar with the derivatives of the Latin word Saxeum, and the Sanscrit term Ska—such as “rough," "rocky," "stony," "scabby," “scaly,” etc.
Now if we investigate the character of the waters, their channels, etc., in America, having in their names either of the terms, the Sanscrit Ska or the Latin Sax-which, as we have observed, are identical-we are met with the startling fact that they are among the very roughest and rockiest on the continent. The SAXAPAHAW is one of the roughest and rockiest rivers in N. C.,—the ledges of granite over which the waters break aiding in developing the immense power of the river. The SAXATCHAWAN (with its Celtic ACHA) is the rockiest and most powerful river in the British American possession. The only river in the Gulf States having a native Indian name that contains the term ska is so proverbially rough that in common English parlance it is known as “the Flint" (of Alabama). The aboriginal name is THRO-NA-DEE-SKA. Two ancient river terms are revealed in this word, in addition to the unknown prefix and the Sanscrit suffix.
The Sanscrit suffix is in many native Indian names; but it is rendered in various (modern) orthographies. “Ska,” “sca," “ scaw,” “sco," "scow," and “ scot” are all versions of the one true word—the latter (scot) supposed to be an original French rendering, the final t silent. The term ska is often in old nomenclatures, especially in the rough and frozen regions of Europe and Asia. In addition to the American words already mentioned, we see it in NEBRASKA, ALASKA, YAMASKA, ATHABASKA, CAXIAPASCAW, ANDROSCOGGIN, and in numerous others. (The latter name is correctly written AME-RI-SCA-GAN.) The CANIAPASCAW is variously written. It is sometimes given as CANIAPUSCOW. It is well known, however, that all the existent orthographies for our Indian names are chiefly conjectural and fanciful. The various writings are but the efforts of scribes to give transcripts of the syllabic sounds contained in the words. There are no common and universal methods of expressing in written characters all syllabic sounds—especially the sounds of a foreign tongue. This fact has given rise to difficulties long recognized and wide-spread in literature, and especially geographical literature; and also in the nomenclatures of the human families. It is well known that the transcripts we have for nearly all the words in Oriental languages do not correctly represent the names as they exist in the native speech. Examination of our “authorities" on the Indian language shows the uncertainties that exist in the minds of our learned men in regard to aboriginal American names. We often find sev. eral transcripts of one word recorded in order that the reader may recog