What does the word Chicago mean? (FAQ)

August 1, 2013

In the Miami-Illinois language, our name for the wild leek plant (Allium tricoccum) is šikaakwa.  Historically, the Chicago River had large populations of wild leek and so Myaamia people named the river the Šikaakwa Siipiiwi (The Wild Leek River).  Over time, the Myaamia used the name Šikaakonki (The Wild Leek Place) to refer to the entire area where the Šikaakwa Siipiiwi (Chicago River) meets Lake Michigan. Today, Myaamia people call the city of Chicago by the same name: Šikaakonki. Click here to listen to the pronunciation of Šikaakonki on our online dictionary. [1]


[1] Michael McCafferty, “A Fresh Look at the Place Name Chicago,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Summer 2002, Vol. 96 No. 2., 116-29.

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