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Q: I would like to find out the meaning of the
word Peshastin. I received an email talking about it in reference
to a creek with that name. The guy said it meant clear,
refreshing water. He claims he is part Cherokee and that the land is
owned by Yakima Indians.
A: Well, it is certainly not a Cherokee name, of that I
can be certain. Yakima, that is possible. It does not mean
clear or refreshing water ("water" in Yakima is chúush),
but then a lot of place names have erroneous translations
like that attached to them. It's possible that it could have
some different meaning in Yakima. In the Nez
Perce language, which is related to Yakima, there is a
river named Asotin (eel place.) Perhaps there is a similar
word in Yakima.
However, I took a look online and it looks like there is a town in Washington
named Peshastin, and the name of that town is attributed to the
Columbia Salish tribe (whose language is not related to Yakima.)
One linguist suggested it may be a corruption of the Salish word for
"flat rock." It seems likely to me that the name of the creek is
actually borrowed from the name of the town. But you rarely can know
for sure with place names.
Hope it helps a little, have a good day!
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Native American Indian names
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