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Pewaukee [origin of place name] | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Pewaukee [origin of place name]

Pewaukee [origin of place name] | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.

Means lake of shells - C.E. Brown. "PEWAUKEE LAKE, (or Pewaukee-wee-ning "lake of shells,") so named by the observing Indians, on account of the great quantity of small shells found in the sand along the shore. These shells are not snail shells,* and hence Snail lake (as it is sometimes called) is an incorrect translation of the Indian name. ... *Snails are land animals, and not aquatic. The shells found here are bleached and mixed with small particles of white lime-stone. They are species of the genera Paludina, Valvata, Planorbis, Melania, Cycles, and fragments of Anodonta." - Lapham

According to the historical collections, is pronounced and should be spelled Pee-wau-naw-kee "a flinty place," ... Is from Peewaukeewinick, which means the dusty place.

Pewaukee, is perhaps a corrupt form of "binwaki" (clean land). The true meaning is uncertain.

Corrupt of "nibiwaki" = "swampy." The Indians frequently swallow, as it were, the first syllable of a word, so that whites often do not recognize that it has been sounded. So also, the former use p,b,k,q,t, and d indifferently. This leads to much confusion in attempts at English phonetic spelling of Indian words.

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[Source: Lapham, Increase Allen. A geographical and topographical description of Wisconsin... (Milwaukee: P.C. Hale, 1844); Sheboygan Daily Press, March 19, 1936; p. 378 of Butterfield's History of Waukesha county.Card file at the WHS library reference desk.]