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Iowa Native Animal Words

Here are the American Indian names of six native animals of Iowa. We have given their names in four different Indian languages: Dakota, Illini, Ioway, and Meskwaki.

Two of these Native Iowa languages are related to the Algonquian language family, and the other two belong to the Siouan language family. Can you guess which languages are relatives by looking at the animal names on this page? (Hint: Not every word will sound similar even in closely related languages, so you may need to look at several different animals to figure it out!) You can find the answer on these pages: Algonquian languages and Siouan languages.

Iowa Native Animal Names


Dakota: mato (pronounced mah-toh)
Illini: mahkwa (pronounced mah-kwuh)
Ioway: mato (pronounced mah-toh)
Meskwaki: mahkwa (pronounced mah-kwah)

Dakota: šunktokeca (pronounced shoonk-toh-kay-chah)
Illini: mahweewa (pronounced mah-way-wa)
Ioway: shunta (pronounced shoon-tah)
Meskwaki: mahwêwa (pronounced mah-way-wah)

Dakota: tahinca (pronounced tah-heen-chah)
Illini: moohswa (pronounced moo-swah)
Ioway: tachi (pronounced tah-chee)
Meskwaki: peshekisia (pronounced pay-shay-kee-see-ah)

Dakota: wica (pronounced wee-chah)
Illini: eehsipana (pronounced ay-see-pah-nah)
Ioway: minke (pronounced meen-kay)
Meskwaki: êsepana (pronounced ay-say-pah-nah)

Dakota: hnaška (pronounced wah-kawn)
Illini: akooka (pronounced ah-koo-kah)
Ioway: granšge (pronounced hoe)
Meskwaki: kookoowa (pronounced koo-koo-wah)

Dakota: keya (pronounced kay-yah)
Illini: mishikinaka (pronounced mih-shih-kih-nah-kah)
Ioway: ketan (pronounced kay-tahn)
Meskwaki: meshihkêha (pronounced may-shee-kay-hah)

Return to our Iowa Native American homepage.