Native Village 
Youth and Education News

December 1, 2013

What's in a Name? Map Shows 'True names' of Michigan cities
Condensed by Native Village


A section of the "Atlas of True Names" by cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust.

A new book, The Atlas of True Names looks at the meanings behind the names of U.S. states, cities, and more. Cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust translated the meaning of place names into modern English and placed them on a map.

For example, locations in Michigan  come from French and American Indian languages, including Algonquian:

Michigan: "Land of the Big Lake"


Lansing: The One from the Land

Kalamazoo: Boiling Water

Detroit: Strait

 Great Lakes:

Lake Huron: Boar’s Head Lake

Lake Erie: Wildcat Lake

“Many geographical names are clearly rooted in Man’s observation of his natural environment,” Hormes writes on his website.

The map doesn't intend to offer fully scientific definitions.  Instead, it provides a general sense of the meanings. Some names have multiple meanings, which are included on map’s index, as well as the place name's entomology.

Hormes said the map is "like some kind of re-enchantment of the world. The world is connected via the internet. Everything is technical. There are big financial problems. Everybody seems exhausted. This gives back some of the childhood feeling.”

Hormes has also created Atlases of True names for Canada, the British Isles, Europe and the world. The maps includes labels for states, cities, and other landmarks.

                        View a full, zoomable copy  

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