Thinkstock/Google Maps/Bryan Dugan
Thinkstock/Google Maps/Bryan Dugan

11 Native American Names for Modern U.S. Cities

Thinkstock/Google Maps/Bryan Dugan
Thinkstock/Google Maps/Bryan Dugan

"Even old New York was once New Amsterdam!" goes one of the more famous lines of the song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)." But the Big Apple is hardly America's only urban area to have undergone a major name change, especially when one considers the people who discovered the country in the first place. Here are the original Native American names given to the regions that would become 11 major U.S. cities.


A large portion of the city of brotherly love (including Laurel Hill Cemetery) rests in a region dubbed "Coaquannock" by the Lenni-Lenape tribe. The name means "grove of tall pines.”


A village dubbed "Ogapogee"—or "the white shell-water place"—by the Tesuque people sat in the center of New Mexico's modern-day capital somewhere around the year 900 CE. A brief history of the area can be found here.


Rhode Island's largest city, along with much of its surrounding territory was called "Pancanaset" ("little cleared place"). For those interested, an excellent database of Rhode Island's historical Native American place names has been compiled by the Aquidneck Indian Council.


Chicago's present-day name derives from the Potawami tribe's word for "wild onions"—"checaugou."


Similarly, many believe the island of Manhattan's name is descended from "Manna-hata," an Algonquin term meaning "island of the hills." Another possible source is "Mennahatenk," a term used to designate "where one gathers bows" in the Munsee Delaware tongue. Contrary to popular belief, however, the island was not in fact purchased for $24 worth of beads.


Unlike the other entries on this list, Seattle is actually named after a Native American leader: Chief Seattle of the Duwamish tribe. Long before the area acquired its current name, however, it was home to an extensive series of villages, such as Stook (“logjam”) and Choo-tuhb-ahlt'w ("flea's house").


Meaning "living waters," "Shawmut" was a name given to the peninsula housing present-day Boston by local Algonquins. For a very detailed description of the Boston area's early nomenclature, head here.


Originally, this city was dubbed "Maliwu," meaning "it makes a loud noise all the time over there" (a reference to the nearby ocean).


Famed for housing the University of Michigan, the settlement called "Kaw-goosh-kaw-nick" was rechristened as Ann Arbor in the 1820s, though theories about the latter name's origin vary significantly.


The growing Arizona city's moniker was initially "Cuk Son," meaning "black base" in the O'odham language.


After the arrival of white settlers, natives took to calling the Crescent City (along with several other towns bordering the Mississippi river) "Malbanchia," which, according to historian William A. Read, means "a place for foreign languages."

From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State

There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer

They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]


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