Midwest Book Review on Indians and Other Misnomers of the Upper Great Lakes by Phil Bellfy

Small Press Bookwatch: September 2023
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

The Native American Studies Shelf

Synopsis: No less than 27 out of the 50 states’ names in the USA are based in Native American languages. Additionally, six out of 13 of Canada’s provinces and territories have names with indigenous origins, and, of course, Canada itself is derived from an indigenous source.

Shakespeare once quipped, “What’s in a name?” A lot, it turns out, because states like California and Florida reflect their Spanish history; here, in the Great Lakes, that history is indigenous. If you have an understanding of the name of a place, its history may reveal itself. And that history will, most likely, enrich your own life and your place in it.

With the publication of “Indians and Other Misnomers of the Upper Great Lakes: The True Indigenous Origins of Geographic Place Names“, Professor Emeritus and Native American Phil Bellfy invites the reader on a geographical Native American place named journey through Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota as we alphabetically traverse indigenous place names in each locale.

Alternately, the reader can peruse an alphabetical concordance of every place name. In the appendices will be found details of US and Canadian treaties with indigenous people, and many that are still under dispute today — including the Anishinaabek, Ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Miami, Kickapoo, Sauk, Sioux, Ojibway, Mississauga, Mohawk, Algonquin, Iroquois, Huron, and related First Nations bands in Ontario.

Critique: A unique, fascinating, and impressively informative approach to American and Native American history, “Indians and Other Misnomers of the Upper Great Lakes: The True Indigenous Origins of Geographic Place Names” is an especially recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library American History and Native American history collections and supplemental Indigenous People curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that “Indians and Other Misnomers of the Upper Great Lakes: The True Indigenous Origins of Geographic Place Names” is also available in a paperback edition (9781615997428, $25.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Phil Bellfy is an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Minnesota Chippewa, and Professor Emeritus of American Indian Studies, Michigan State University. He resides in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula near Sault Ste. Marie. Dr. Bellfy is also the Founder and a Co-Director of Center for the Study of Indigenous Border Issues (CSIBI) and serves as the Editor and Publisher of its education imprint, the Ziibi Press. His works include: UP Colony: A Brief History of Resource Exploitation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, with a Focus on Sault Manufacturing. Ziibi Press, 2021. Three Fires Unity: The Anishnaabeg of the Lake Huron Borderlands. Indians and Other Misnomers: a Cross-referenced Dictionary of the People, Persons, and Places of Native North America. First Americans Engagement Calendar (co-authored with Judith Dupre).

Read the review on Midwest Book Review

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