Original meanings of fifty tribal names

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Here are the meanings of fifty tribal names in their own languages, cross indexed to the names they are known by today.

A’aninin is the original tribal name of the Gros Ventre
A’aninin (white clay people). Also A’ani or A’ane. Gros Ventre is French for ‘big belly.’ 

Absaroke is the original tribal name of the Crow
Absaroke (big bird people). When first asked their name by Europeans, they said “big bird people,” meaning the Eagle. The Europeans saw big crows eating carion around the camp perimeter, and mistakenly thought they meant the Crow. Crow – English: from their tribal name. 

Alabama is the original tribal name of the Alabama
Alabama (cleared thicket) 

Alnombak is the original tribal name of the Abenaki
Alnombak (the people). Abenaki (dawn people or easterners) 

Anishinaabe is the original tribal name of the Algonquin
Anishinaabe (original people). Today the Anishinaabe have two tribes, Ojibway/Ojibwe and Chippewa. Algonquin is probably a French corruption of either the Maliseet word elehgumoqik, “our allies,” or the Mi’kmaq place name Algoomaking, “fish-spearing place.”

Anishinaabe is the original tribal name of the Chippewa
Anishinaabe (original people). Today the Anishinaabe have two tribes, the Ojibway/Ojibwe/Chippewa and the Chippewa-Cree. Ojibwe & Chippewa are the versions of the same word pronounced differently because of English versus French accents (placing an “O” in front of Chippewa results in the word “O’chippewa”). Ojibwe is used in Canada. While “Chippewa” is used in the U.S., it is not approved of by the Anishinabe people themselves. The word “Ojibwe,” or “Chippewa,” comes from the Algonquin word “otchipwa” (to pucker), referring to the distinctive puckered seam of Ojibwe moccasins. 

Aniyunwiya 
is the original tribal name of the Tsalagi (Cherokee). 
Aniyunwiya (principal people). Cherokee is more properly spelled Tsalagi and is a Creek/Muskogee word for ‘speakers of another language’. 

Asakiwaki is the original tribal name of the Sauk (now Sac and Fox).
Asakiwaki (or Osakiwuk) means ‘people of the outlet’ and refers to their original homeland on Michigan’s Saginaw Bay which gets its name from them. Sometimes translated as ‘yellow earth people’. Sauk (Also Sak, Osawkee, Saki, Saque, and Sawkee) is a shortened form of the tribal name . 

Attikamekw is the original tribal name of the Attikamekw.
Attikamekw is a kind of whitefish. 

Chahta is the original tribal name of the Choctaw.
Chahta (A legendary tribal chief). Choctaw is a variation of the tribal name. 

Chikasha is the original tribal name of the Chickasaw.
Chikasha (A legendary tribal chief). Chickasaw – from tribal name.

Dakelh is the original tribal name of the Carrier. Dakelh (travel by water). Carrier is the English translation of the Sekani name for them, referring to the tribe’s mourning ritual. 

Dakotah is the original tribal name of the Dakota Sioux
Dakota (the allies). The four bands are the Mdewakantonwan, Wahpeton, Sissetonwan and the Wahpekute. Sioux comes from an Ojibwe word meaning “little snakes.” 

Dakotah is the original tribal name of the Santee Sioux.
Dakota (the allies). The four bands are the Mdewakantonwan, Wahpeton, Sissetonwan and the Wahpekute. Sioux comes from an Ojibwe word meaning “little snakes.” 

Degexit’an is the original tribal name of the Ingalik
Degexit’an (people of this land). Ingalik – Inuktitut word for “Indian people.” 

Dena’ina is the original tribal name of the Tanaina.
Dena’ina (the people). Tanaina – from tribal name. 

Dene is the original tribal name of the Chipewyan
Dene (the people). Chipewyan – Cree word for “pointed shirt,” after a traditional clothing style. 

Dene This is also the original tribal name of the Slavey.
Dene Tha means ‘true people’. Slavey is English, from the Cree name for them (Awokanak), which meant servile ones. 

Diné
is the original tribal name of the Navajo
Diné or Dine’é means ‘the people’. Navajo is a Pueblo Indian word for ‘planted fields’. 

Dunne-Za is the original tribal name of the Beaver.
Dunne-Za or Danezaa means real people. Beaver is an English translation of a clan name, Tsatinne 

Gaigwu is the original tribal name of the Kiowa.
Gaigwu (or Kaigwu) means principal people. Kiowa – from tribal name. 

Gayogohono is the original tribal name of the Cayuga, Iroquois. 
Gayogohono means swamp people. The Cayuga are one of the five Indian nations that comprise the Iroquois Confederation. Iroquois is an English corruption of a French corruption of an Algonkian word meaning “real snakes.” 

Inuna-Ina (Hinonoeino) is the original tribal name of the Arapaho.
Hinonoeino means ‘our people’. Arapaho (also spelled Arapahoe or Arrapahoe) is probably from a Pawnee Indian word for ‘traders’ 

Istichata is the original tribal name of the Creek.
Also known as Muskogee before they were called Creek. Creek from the English name for a river 

Kanienkehaka is the original tribal name of the Mowhawk, Iroquois. 
Kanienkehaka means People of Flint. The Mohawk are one of the five Indian nations that comprise the Iroquois Confederation. The name “Mohawk” means “man-eater” and was coined by their enemies, the Algonquin. Iroquois is an English corruption of a French corruption of an Algonkian word meaning “real snakes.” 

Kawchottine is the original tribal name of the Hare.
Kawchottine means ‘big hare people’. Hare is English, from the tribal name. Arctic hares were an important source of food. 

Kiwigapawa is the original tribal name of the Kickapoo
Kickapoo is derived from the Algonquian Kiwigapawa meaning ‘wanderer’ or ‘he who moves about’. The Kickapoos split off from the Shawnee tribe. 

Lakotah is the original tribal name of the Lakota Sioux
Lakota (the allies). Sioux comes from an Ojibwe word meaning “little snakes.” 

Lakotah is the original tribal name of the Teton Sioux
Lakota (the allies). Teton (prairie dwellers). Sioux comes from an Ojibwe word meaning “little snakes.” 

Lenape 
is the original tribal name of the Delaware
Lenape (Lenápe or Lenapi) means ‘the people’. Also known as Lenni Lenape – ‘true people’. Delaware is the English name for the Delaware River, named after a British nobleman. 

Lenni Lenape is the original tribal name of the Delaware
Lenni Lenape means ‘true people’. Also known as Lenape (Lenápe or Lenapi) – ‘the people’. Delaware is the English name for the Delaware River, named after a British nobleman. 

Maklak is the original tribal name of the Klamath
Maklak means ‘the people. Klamath is of unknown origins 

Mamaceqtaw is the original tribal name of the Menominee
Mamaceqtaw means ‘the people’. Menominee is derived from manomin – an Algonkian word for wild rice-because it is a major food source for the tribe. 

Meskwaki is the original tribal name of the Fox (now Sac and Fox) .
Meskwaki means ‘red earth people. Fox is possibly an English translation of a clan name 

Minisink is the original tribal name of the Munsee.
Minisink means ‘from the rocky lands. Munsee – from tribal name. 

Mohiingan is the original tribal name of the Mohegan
Mohiingan means ‘wolf’. Mohegans are sometimes mistakenly called Mohican. 

Muskogee 
is the original tribal name of the Creek
Creek came from the English name for a river. 

Myaamia is the original tribal name of the Miami.
Miami comes from the Miami-Illinois word Myaamia, or in the plural, Myaamiaki, which means “allies.” Another common usage was Mihtohseeniaki, “the people,” and the Miami continue to employ this ethnonym today. Some sources say that the Miami called themselves the Twightwee (also spelled Twatwa), an onomatopeic reference to their sacred bird, the crane. Others aver that this was only a name applied by outsiders. 

Nakodah is the original tribal name of the Assiniboine (now Assiniboine and Sioux live on one reservation and many have intermarried. Their offspring will self-identify as Assiniboine Sioux or Assiniboine and Sioux). 
Nakodah means allies. Assiniboine comes from the Ojibwe name for the tribe, Assinipwan, which means “stone water people.” The Ojibwe probably called them this because they used heated stones to boil most of their food. 

Nakodah is the original tribal name of the Stoney (sometimes referred to as Stoney Sioux). 
Nakoda means allies. Stoney comes from the Ojibwe name for the tribe, Assinipwan, which means “stone water people.” The Ojibwe probably called them this because they used heated stones to boil most of their food. 

Nakotah is the original tribal name of the Yankton Sioux
Nakota (the allies) or Nakoda. Nakota bands are the Ihanktonwan, or Yankton, and the Ihanktonwana, or Yanktonai. 

Nanigansek is the original tribal name of the Narragansett
Nanigansek means ‘Small Point’ – a geographical location in their homeland. Narragansett comes from the tribal name. 

Nantego 
is the original tribal name of the Nanticoke
Nantego means tidewater people. Nanticoke comes from the tribal name. 

Ndee  is the original tribal name of the Apache
Ndee or Dine’ A (Di ‘ns ) means the people’. Apache is a Zuni word Apachu meaning ‘enemy’. 

Nishnabe’k is the original tribal name of the Potawatomi
Nishnabe’k ( the people). Potawatomi or Bode’wadmi (‘firekeepers’ or ‘People of the Place of the Fire’). 

Niukonska is the original tribal name of the Osage.
Niukonska means ‘Little Ones of the Middle Waters’. Osage comes from Wazhazhe. When Europeans first met the Wazhazhe, using rough French phonetics, they translated the name of one division of the tribe, the Wazhazhe, into the word “Osage.”

Numakiki is the original tribal name of the Mandan
Numakiki means ‘people’. Mandan is possibly a corruption of the Lakota Sioux word Mawatani meaning ‘riverbank people’. 

Numinu is the original tribal name of the Comanche
Numinu means ‘the people’. Comanche either comes from a Ute word ‘comantcia’ meaning ‘they fight with us’ or from the Spanish ‘camino ancho’ meaning broad trail. 

Nuutsiu is the original tribal name of the Ute
Nuutsiu (Nunt’zi) ‘the people. Ute is probably a corruption of their tribal name; it does not mean “mountain” as is popularly believed. 

Qwulhhwaipum is the original tribal name of the Klickitat
Qwulhhwaipum means ‘prairie people’. Klickitat is from the Chinook word for ‘beyond the mountains’