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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.

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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!
Native Languages of the Americas

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 Native American Indian names
 Cherokee language
 Yakima tribe
 Salish languages

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