My name is Mike Hoffman.
I am a Menominee and Ottawa descendant. In the year 2000 the late Menominee Elder and artist
James Frechette appointed me the cultural consultant and advisor to the Menominee Clans Story housed at the University
of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. I have been involved with the Menominee Clans Story project for over twenty years as of this date.
My Menominee name is Cīhkwānahkwat, translated into, Meteor Clould
that Makes it Clear. I was given my Menominee name by one of the last
full blood Menominee women now passed on.
Her name was Wāqsecewan, translated to Flows Brightly. Wāqsecewan
had to learn to speak the English language as a child, Menominee was
her first language. She was one of my main teachers, who also taught
other present day teachers of the Menominee language. I learned the
Menominee language from several other Menominee elders, relatives,
and a lengthy study of tapes and materials made before my time. I am a
certified Menominee language instructor, recognized by the Menominee
Nation of Wisconsin. I will present to you, the reader, my findings in
these documents. I drew my findings from many sources, cross
referencing as I worked on this paper the Menominee Place Names In
Wisconsin. I will leave the other Indian nations who now or previously
lived in the area of Wisconsin to their own findings of place names. The
names other Indian nations gave for place names are their own.
My objective is to preserve the old Menominee place names, not to
translate contemporary English place names into the Menominee
Many publications by various authors over an extensive period have
tried to give the proper Indian names for towns, settlements, and so forth
with some limited success. Only someone trained in linguistics or a
speaker of the proper native language can be an accurate source.
Menominee language is one of the most published Indian languages
One of the most noted linguists of his time Dr. Leonard Bloomfield
prepared a Menominee to English dictionary on the basis of the texts he
collected in the early 1920s among other Menominee works. Bloomfield
was the leading linguist of his day, not only writing the Menominee
language in a standard form but also speaking the Menominee language
fluently. Dr. Bloomfield worked with many Menominee some of whom
only spoke the Menominee language.
Noted anthropologist Alanson Skinner another well known author of
Native American publications in the 1920s was also a reliable source as a
base for Menominee Place Names In Wisconsin. Skinner had worked
with many elderly Menominee informants while producing papers for
the New York Museum of the American Indian Heye Foundation over an
eleven year period.
Mr. William Powell was a former interpreter to the Menominee Nation
in the 1800s. In Powell's Recollections published in Proceedings of the
State Historical Society Of Wisconsin at its sixtieth annual meeting held
October 24, 1912, Powell presents the origin and meaning of Indian place
Dr. Bloomfield, Interpreter Powell, as well as Anthropologist Skinner
were just three of many sources I looked to for Menominee Place Names
In Wisconsin. Dr. Bloomfield had researched publications of others who
had early contact with the Menominee Nation, Jesuits, anthropologists,
as well as early explorers. The afore mentioned sources had personal
contact with several Menominee who had knowledge of the many sites
formerly occupied in the Wisconsin territories. They were reliable
sources for the Menominee Place Names In Wisconsin.
The collection of Menominee Clan figures as well as other carvings
skillfully created by the late James Frechette are on permanent display at
the Museum of Natural History, in the Albertson Learning Resource
Center, also known as the library building on campus. In addition for
viewing at the UWSP library are eleven George Catlin reproductions of
Menominee people from the 1830s. On the
Menominee Clans Web site
you will be able to view the
Menominee Place Names In
Wisconsin along with the afore mentioned collections.
The Menominee and the Ho Chunk Nations are the only two American
Indian tribes originating in Wisconsin. Only the Menominee place
names will be dealt with in this writing, for Ho Chunk words for place
names I will suggest you contact the Ho Chunk Nation.
The origin story of the Menominee makes no references to migration to
Wisconsin. Many Menominee legends and stories mention place names
in the Wisconsin territories. The first place names heard by the early
explorers would have been Menominee or Ho Chunk in origin. The
Menominee language is of the Algonquin language family. The Ho
Chunk language is of the Sioux language family. The two languages are
as different as night and day, Menominee speakers do not understand
Ho Chunk speakers and Ho Chunk speakers do not understand
The early explorers relied on interpreters from whatever Indian Nation
they allied with at that specific period of time in history. The first
explorers traveled through lands occupied by Indian Nations outside of
the Wisconsin boundaries, engaging in trade and relations to their
benefit. The tribal members encountered in Wisconsin who were telling
the place names often had to talk through interpreters who often
summarized what was being said. Thus many recorded place names of
Wisconsin were influenced by other Indian Nations than the Menominee
Nation who occupied the vast areas of Wisconsin at that time of first
Remember the old telegraph game played by children. Example—by the
time a Potawatomi interpreter told a place name to a Frenchman who
then told it to an Englishman the original Menominee word most likely
would be wrongly recorded.
Several searches of place names of Wisconsin have revealed to me the
most erroneous spellings and meanings of the Menominee language
Many times well meaning people step outside of their expertise and
make mistakes in their efforts to record history.
The Menominee language is descriptive in nature, describing events,
landmarks, personal names of individuals in the area, and so forth when
it comes to place names. Menominee language contains
not heard or understood by non speakers. Many of the
recorded over time took on an ethnic spin of the person doing the
recording. Several of the place names seen today are of other than
Menominee origin. This does not make those Indian Nations other than
Menominee right or wrong, it is simply their own way of describing that
individual place name in the language they speak. The Menominee Place
Names Of Wisconsin will only give the Menominee language names of
the Wisconsin territories.
Menominee Place Names in Wisconsin chart
Go to Pronunciation
Go to interactive Menominee Place Names Map