HISTORY: Indian Place Names Downeast

Indian Place Names From Around Passamaquoddy Bay

From the blog at http://JohnWood1946.wordpress.com

Albert S. Gatschet wrote an article entitled All Around the Bay of Passamaquoddy in 1897. It began with a short description of the Passamaquoddy area, but its main purpose was to present a list of Abenaki place names. I have edited the list as follows, hopefully to improve its readability.

The Abenakis include the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet Native groups of southeastern Quebec, the Maritime Provinces and New England.

Native group at Tobique, ca 1904 From the N.B. Museum, via the McCord Museum

Indian Place Names From Around Passamaquoddy Bay

Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, and Mount Desert Island are all called in Indian Péssank or Péssan “at the clam-digging place or places,” from ess, “(clam) shell” with p- prefix, -an verbal ending.

Bay of Fundy, a storm-beaten corner of the Atlantic Ocean between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, is to the Indians Wikwalwabegituk, “waves at the head of the bay,” –tuk referring to waters driven in waves or moved by the tide.

Bishop’s Point, on north head of Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick. Its Indian name, Budebé-nhigen, means “death-trap of whales,” from Budebé-n, “whale;” –higin, a suffix which stands for “tool” or “instrument.”

Campobello Island, New Brunswick, is called Kbagwfdek, from its position between Maine and New Brunswick, “floating between,” from éba, “between” and “gwiden,” floating. Another name is Edlitik, which seems to refer to the sudden deepening of the waters on the west side.

Cherry Island, a rocky formation just south of Indian Island, New Brunswick, is known to the Indian as Mἰsik nĕgúsis, “at the little island of trees.”  Mἰsi is “tree” or “trees;” misik, “where trees stand.” Nĕgú is an abbreviation for m’nfku, “island,” with –sis, a diminutive ending.

Cobscook Bay, a body of water lying west and southwest of Moose Island. It is the Indian term kápskuk; “at the waterfalls.” The tide, rising here to about twenty feet, enters into the sinuosities of the shore, and returns to the ocean to form rapids, riffles, or cascades (kápsku).

Deer Island, New Brunswick, a large isle at the southern extremity of Passamaquoddy Bay, is Edúki mn’iku, “of the deer the island.”

D’Orville’s Head, an eminence where the St. Croix River empties into Passamaquoddy Bay. Kwagustchus’k, “at the dirty mountain,” from Kwagwéyu, “dirty” and tehús, “mountain” with -k, a locative particle, and “at.” The name was corrupted into the more popular “Devil’s Head.”

Eastport, city and harbor, has the same Indian name, Muselénk, as Moose Island upon which it is built, A corruption from the hybrid compound Mús-ĕländ’k, its second half being a corruption of island, with the locative -k appended. The genuine Indian name for Moose Island is Mús m’níku. The Moose Islanders and Eastport people are called Musĕléniek.

Eel Brook, a small rivulet at the northern end of Grand Manan Island, is in Indian Katekádik, which stands for Kat-akádik, and signifies “where (-k) eels (kát) are plentiful (akádi).”

Gardner’s Lake, in Machias Township is called Némdamsw’ águm, the term némdam designating a species of fresh water fish rushing up brooks and channels, with ném, (upward) and águm (lake).

Grand Manan, New Brunswick, a large island with high shores, south of Passamaquoddy Bay, Menanúk of the Indians. The name probably signifies “at the island” in the Micmac dialect.

Herring Cove, a large sea-beach of the east side of Campobello Island, facing Fundy and Grand Manan, is called Pitchamkfak “at the long beach;” Pitchéyu, it is long, ámk, gravel, and -kie, beach, with the locative case -kfak.

Indian Island, New Brunswick, forms a narrow strip of one and a half mile length at the southwestern entrance to Passamaquoddy Bay, and was inhabited by these Indians before they crossed over to Lincoln’s Point and Pleasant Point, Maine. They call it Misik-nĕgús “at the tree island.” The name of Cherry Island is a diminutive of this.

Kendall’s Head, a bold headland in northern part of Moose Island, facing Deer Island, New Brunswick, upon the “western passage” of the St. Croix River, is called by the Indians Wabfgenĕk, “at the white bone,” or Wabfgén, “white bone,” from the white color of the rock ledge on its top. Wábi, white; -gen or –ken, bone; -k at.

Kunaskwámkuk, often abbreviated Kunaskwámk, is a comprehensive name given to the town of St. Andrews, New Brunswick, to the heights above and north of it, where the Algonquin hotel is erected, and to the coast between St. Andrews and Joe’s Point. The name signifies “at the gravel beach of the pointed top.” Kuná, “point,” refers to a sandbar projecting into the bay; kunaskwá, “pointed top or extremity;” áimk, “travel,” and “gravelly beachm” with -nk, a locative ending;, atonupon.

Lubec, a village south of Eastport, at the narrows between Campobello and the mainland is called Kehamkfak, “at the beach forming the narrows.” Kebé-ik means “at the narrows,” and is the same word as the Cree and Montagnais.-kfak is the locative case of kie, “at the beach or beaches.”

Machias and East Machias, two towns on the southern trend of the Maine coast, which were settled from Scarborough, in Maine, represent the term metchiéss, partridge.

Meddybemps Village and Meddybemps Lake, drained by Dennys River, Dennysville Township, are called after a fresh-water fish mĕdebéss’m or the hanpout.

Moose Island, (see Eastport)

Moosehead Lake, in the interior of Maine, is called in Passamaquoddy Ktchi-ságuk, “at the wide outlet.” A literal translation of the English name would be Musátp ágĕmuk; mús, “moose deer;” átp suffix referring to “head;” ágĕmuk, “at the lake.” Chesuncook is in Penobscot dialect the name of a lake to the northeast of Moosehead Lake, and signifies “at the big outlet,” Ktchi-sánkuk.

Mount Katahdin, though its name is worded in the Penobscot dialect, may be mentioned here as signifying “large mountain.” The syllable kt- is equivalent to ktchf; “large, great, big;” and ad’ne, ad’na, is “mountain.” The Penobscot Indians pronounce it Ktăʹd’n (a short); the Passamaquoddies, Ktād’n (a long).

Norumbega is the alleged name of a river and some ancient villages or Indian “cities” in Maine, spelled in many different ways, but never located with any degree of certainty. The name does not stand for any Indian settlement, but is a term of the Abnáki languages, which in Penobscot sounds nalambfgi, in Passamaquoddy nalabégik—both referring to the “still, quiet” (nala-) stretch of a river between two riffles, rapids, or cascades; -bégik, for nipégik, meaning “at the water.” On the larger rivers in Maine ten to twenty of these “still water stretches” may occur on each. Hence the impossibility of determining the sites meant by the old authors speaking of these localities. Narantsuak, now Norridgewok, on middle Penobscot River, has the same meaning.

Oak bay, a large inlet of St. Croix River, east of the city of Calais, is named Wekwáyik—“at the head of the bay.”

Passamaquoddy Bay, according to its orthography now current, means the bay where pollock is numerous or plentiful. The English spelling of the name is not quite correct, for the Indians pronounce it Peskĕdĕmakádi pekudebégek. Peskĕdem is the pollock-fish or “skipper,” “jumper;” called so from its habit of skipping above the surface of the water and falling into it again. -kadi, -akadi is a suffix, marking plenty or abundance. (cf. the name Acadia, derived from this ending.) There are several places on the shores of this bay especially favorable for catching this food-fish, like East Quoddy Head, etc. Quoddy, the abbreviated name now given to a hotel in Eastport, should be spelt: Kadi or Akádi, for there is no w-sound in this Indian term, and it would be better to write the name of the bay, if scientific accuracy is desired, “Peskedemakadi Bay.”

Pembroke Lake, a long water sheet, stretching from northwest to southeast, is in Indian imnakwan águm, or “the lake where sweet tree sap is obtained.” Mákwan, or “sweet,” stands for the liquid sugar running from the sugar maple. Agum means “lake.”

Pleasant Point, Indian village on the western shore of St. Croix River, is called Sibá-ik, Sibáyik, “at the water-passage, on the thoroughfare for ships or canoes,” which refers to the sites just south of the “point.”

Princeton, a village on the Kennebasis River, south shore (an affluent of the St. Croix River from the west), is called Mdakmfguk, “on the rising soil;” from mdá, “high, rising,” and kmfgu, an abbreviation of ktakmfgu, “land, soil, territory.”

Red Beach, on west shore of lower St. Croix River, above Robbinston, is named Mekwamkés’k, “at the small red beach;” from mékw(a), “red” and ámk, “beach;” –es, diminutive ending, “small, little,” and ‘k, -ûk, locative case suffix, “at, on.”

Schoodic or Skudik, “at the clearings,” is a topographic term given to the Schoodic or Grand Lake on the headwaters of the St. Croix River; also to the St. Croix River itself, and to the town of Calais. That these terms were created by the burning down of the timber appears from the term itself, for sk wút, skút means fire, and the name really means “at the fire.” Another Skúdik lake lies

St. Croix River, in Indian Skúdik sfp, “the river of clearings;” from the clearings on its shores or on the Skúdik lake, where the river takes its origin.

St. George and St. George River, emptying into the northeast end of Passamaquoddy Bay, are just as well known by their Indian name, Megigadéwik, “many eels having,” from mégi, many, gat or kat, eel, -wi, adjectival ending and -k, locative case suffix.

St. John River, running near the western border of New Brunswick and its large tributary, the Aroostook, are both called in Penobscot and in Passamaquoddy, Ulastúk, “good river,” meaning river of easy navigation, without cascades, falls, or rapids; from úla, wúli, good; -tuk, tidal river and waters driven in waves.

via Indian Place Names From Around Passamaquoddy Bay — johnwood1946

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