The name “Wisconsin” originally applied to the Wisconsin River; is a Native American name of unknown origin though there are many theories about it. Early spellings include ‘Mescousing’, ‘Mishkonsing’ and Miskasinsin.

The Columbia County website says that “Wisconsin means dark waters in a Native American language. The dark water of the Wisconsin River and Lake Wisconsin comes from the very dark roots of the Tamarack (Larix Larcina*) trees which line its banks in the northern part of the state and bleed a natural dye into the river”.

A cognate of ‘Meshcousing’ in Sanskrit is ‘Mechakpag’ (मेचकापगा) meaning ‘Dark-Blue River’. The word Mechak (मेचक) means ‘dark blue’, ‘smoke’, or ‘darkness’ . Mechakita (मेचकित) means ‘having a dark blue colour’.

“Meskonsing” has also commonly been translated as “it lies red”. But that does not appropriately describe the waters of Wisconsin.

There is another river in Wisconsin state that is lined by a large number of Tamarack and Oak trees. Its waters are even darker than the waters of the Wisconsin. The river is called the “Black River”. Its ancient Native American name is lost.

*Larcina – from Latin ‘larix’, probably a loan-word from an Alpine Gaulish language, corresponding phonetically to Old Celtic. *Darik meaning”oak”. Refer: ‘Darik’, is originally derived from Sanskrit ‘devadar’ meaning “God’s Tree”. For more details click here


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