Penobscot, Kennebec, Katahdin.

These are all names we are familiar with here in Maine. But, these names are more than just names, they are words of meaning to the Native Americans who were here before white men came in.  They were words that described the character of a location, the abundance it brought for them, the opportunity to harvest from the features of the land.

Many Native American groups resided here in Maine, including the Penobscot, the Mi'kmaq, the Abenaki and the names they used for features of Maine are still present in our everyday lexicon.

It's interesting to look at the list of names and see that what we call a full river, Native Americans were actually more specific about a particular location of the river when naming features of the land.  A place were you find ale-wives, a place were you find cranberries, gravelly sections of a river- these are all examples of what was named originally.  We know connect these names to a larger feature, a whole river, and not to a certain section of a feature, like ridges characterizing a section of the Penobscot River.

Take a look at the names we know here in the State of Maine and learn the meaning behind the name as intended by the Native Americans that lived here thousands of years before Europeans came along.

Native American Meanings Behind the Names of Maine Locations & Features