This page is in process; some revisions may be made later. I have also posted the legend of Kanasta [ from which Connestee takes its name], above.
I see that Tellico Village, Tennessee, also has street names of Cherokee origin.
Connestee Falls is a large housing development near Brevard, North Carolina. It occupies some 3900 acres, with about 1300 homes. I understand that about half of those homes belong to year-round residents. There are some 50 miles of paved streets in the community. Some historical information on the area is found at this link; however, for correct translations of the street names, you should look below on this site. Those on the otherwise excellent historical site are not always very good. You might also want to read the comments following my translations here.
What makes Connestee Falls of some interest to us? Almost all of its streets bear Cherokee names.
I have never visited the community, but I have exchanged information with some local people about it, and I have spent a good deal of time studying the map of its streets.
The street names are taken from the names of historical Cherokee towns or places, plants, animals, birds, and famous Cherokee leaders.
Here, I am going to list the names of all the streets. For each one, I will give a phonetic spelling that could be used by Connestee residents to help with pronunciation. The pronunciation is intended to preserve at least the flavor of the Cherokee sounds, but it will be one that can be spoken by modern English speakers; it is not intended to be a perfect Cherokee pronunciation. As often as possible, I try to use some rough approximation of the Giduwa [Eastern Cherokee] Dialect as a starting point, because that is the major surviving dialect in North Carolina. However, Giduwa is a more conservative form than the somewhat homogenized Western Dialect of Oklahoma and its sounds are sometimes much more difficult for English speakers [and for me to represent here], so, in several cases, the pronunciation given here is closer to the Western speech.
I hope this will be a helpful guide for Connestee Falls residents and visitors.
In many words, the “v” is best pronounced as “un.” I have chosen to suggest “ch” as a pronunciation of those syllables beginning with “ts”; some speakers actually pronounce the “ts” sound, but most pronounce as “j” or “ch” or even “z.” Syllables beginning with “tl” or “dl” are most correctly pronounced with a sound best represented by “hl,” but this combination is not always easy for English speakers, so I have usually suggested some similar sound. [The "correct" pronunciation of "tl" is very similar to the correct pronunciation of the Ll in Welsh Llanfair.]
After the pronunciation, there will be a spelling of the name that would be readable to a Cherokee speaker and which could readily be written using the Cherokee Syllabary. Please note that the letter “v” is used to represent the sound that is close to the UH in <HUH?>.
The next entry will be an authentic translation or explanation of the name. There are still a few of the names that I simply cannot decipher into some original meaning as yet, but I will continue the research and update those names whenever possible.
Anyone who wishes to print out this list is welcome to do so. I would appreciate it if you would mention the source on the printout.
This is the format:
Street name [best pronunciation] (Cherokee word, by syllables): meaning
Adawehi [ah-DAH-way-hee] (a-da-we-hi): Medicine man, magician, conjurer
Adayahi [ah-DAH-ya-hee] (a-da-ya-hi): Oak
Adelv [ah-DAY-la] (a-de-lv): Silver, money
Adohi [ah-DOE-hee] (a-do-hi): Woody place, forest
Agaliha [ah-GAH-li-ha] (a-ga-li-ha): It is shining, so: sunshine or moonshine
Ama [AH-ma] (a-ma): Water or salt. Probably water was intended.
Amacola [ah-ma-KOH-la] (a-ma u-qua-le-lv-yi): An attempt at Amicalola, place where water makes rolling thunder noise. The name of the famous water falls and state park in Georgia. Some old maps spelled it Amacola.
Amayi [ah-MAH-yee] (a-ma-yi): In the water
Annakesta [anna-KES-ta]: I am still trying to decipher this one.
Anv [AH-na] (a-nv, modern form a-ni): Strawberry. Please don’t pronounce it “Ann-vee!.
Atisvgi [ah-ti-SUN-gi] Still researching this one
Atsadi [a-CHAH-di] (a-tsa-di): Fish
Awi [ah-WEE or ah-WHEE] (a-wi): Deer
Ayugidv [ah-YOO-gi-DUN] (modern yu-gi-da): Hazel or hazelnut
Catatoga [CAH-ta-TOE-ga] (from ga-du-gi-tse-yi): New town or new settlement. In Macon County, the same word became Cartoogechaye.
Chagee [CHAH-gi] (tsa-gi): Perhaps from tsa-gi, “up the road” or “upstream”; one Cherokee village bore this name.
Cheestoonaya [CHEES-too-NAH-ya] (tsi-stu-na-yi): Crawfish place
Cheowa [chee-OH-wah] (tsi-yo-hi): Otter place
Cherokee [CHER-o-kee] (tsa-la-gi): the Cherokee people
Cheulah [CHEW-la] (tsu-la): Red Fox, the name of a Cherokee chief in TN, 1762.
Connestee [KAH-na-stee] (ka-na-stv-yi): Meaning unknown; there is a legend of a lost Cherokee settlement from which the name comes. It is quite possible that it is only a Cherokee approximation of the name of the tribe or town which was there long before the Cherokee arrived.
Dalonigei [da-LAHN-i-GAY-ee] (da-lo-ni-ge-i): Yellow, gold; the same word that became the name of Dahlonega, GA
Dawatsila [DAH-wa-CHEE-la] (da-w-tsi-la): Elm
Dewa [DAY-wa or TAY-wa] (te-wa): Flying squirrel
Dotsi [DAH-chee] (do-tsi): A kind of water monster believed to live in the Tennessee River
Dotsuwa [doe-CHEW-wha or toe-CHEW-wha or toe-JEW-wha] (do-tsu-wa): Red Bird, Cardinal
Doyi [DOE-yee] (do-yi): Beaver
Dudi [DOO-dee; I prefer TOO-tee] (du-di): Snowbird
Duya [DOO-ya; I prefer TOO-ya] (tu-ya): Bean
Dvdegi [DUN-day-gi] (tlv-de-qua): Eel
Dvdisdi [dun-DEES-ti] (attempt at tlv-ti-sdi): Pheasant
Dvga [DUN-ga; I prefer TUN-ga] (tv-ga): Housefly
Echota [eh-CHOE-ta] (i-tsa-ti): Meaning unknown; New Echota was the capital of the Cherokee people at the time of removal. Sautee is one rendition of the same word.
Elaqua [eh-LAH-qua] [e-la-qua]: Still under research
Elseetos [el-SEE-toess]: One source claims that this was the Cherokee name of Mt. Pisgah, Haywood County, NC, but I cannot document that.
Enolah [ee-NOE-la] (i-no-li): Black Fox, a Cherokee chief in the early 19th Century; also, an old name for what is now Brasstown Bald in GA
Gadu [GAH-doo] (ga-du): Bread
Gagama [ga-GAH-ma or ka-KAH-ma] (ga-ga-ma): Cucumber
Galuyasdi [ga-LOO-ya-stee] (ga-lu-ya-sdi): Ax or tomahawk
Galvloi [gah-la-LOW-ee] (ga-lv-lo-i): Sky
Ganohenv [GAH-no-HAY-na or KAH-no-HAY-na](ga-no-he-nv): Hominy, which is not the same thing as grits!
Gasga [GAHSS-ga or GOSH-ga] (a-ga-sga): It is raining
Gawanv [ga-WOE-na or ka-WOE-na or ga-WAH-na] (ka-wo-ni): Duck
Gigagei [gi-ga-GAY-ee] (gi-ga-ge-i): Red
Gili [ghee-LEE or GHEE-hli or GI-li] (gi-tli): Dog
Gogv [KO-ga or GO-ga] (go-gv): Crow
Golanv [KO-la-na or GO-la-na] (go-la-nv): Raven; Cherokee name of Sam Houston
Guledisgonihi [GOO-lay dis-KAH-ni-hee] (gu-le-di-sgo-ni-hi): Mourning dove [literally, "he cries for acorns"]
Guque [kuh-KWAY or guh-KWAY] (gu-que): Bobwhite quail
Gusti [GOOS-tee or GUS-tee] (gu-sti): Meaning unknown, from a Cherokee settlement on the Tennessee River in TN
Gusv [goo-SUH) (gu-sv): Beech tree [probably]
Guwa [KOO-wah or GOO-wah] (gu-wa): Mulberry tree
Gvhe [GUN-hay or GUH-hay] (gv-he): Bobcat
Gvli [GUN-tlee or GUH-lee or GUH-hlee] (gv-li): Raccoon
Hokassa [ho-KASS-a] (perhaps intended for na-qui-si): Naquisi is the word for star.
Inadv [EE-na-DUH or ee-NAH-da; EE-na-DEE in some dialects] (i-na-da): Snake
Inoli [ee-NO-lee] (i-no-li): Black Fox; see Enola
Isuhdavga [ee-SUN-da-UN-ga] (i-sv-da-v-ga): Still under research
Iya [EE-yah] (i-ya): Pumpkin
Junaluska [JOO-na-LUS-ka] (tsu-nu-la-hv-sgi): “He keeps on trying unsuccessfully”; the name of a great Cherokee chief in the early 19th Century
Kalvi [ka-LUN-ee or ka-LUH-ee] (from di-ka-lv-gv-i): East
Kanasdatsi [KAH-na-STAH-chee] (ka-na-sda-tsi): Sassafras
Kanasgowa [KAH-na-SKOE-wa or KAH-nahs-GO-wa] (ka-na-sgo-wa): Heron
Kanunu [ka-NOO-na] (ka-nu-na): Bullfrog
Kanvsita [kah-na-SEE-ta] (ka-nv-si-ta): Dogwood
Kassahola [KAHSS-a-HO-la or KASS-a-HO-la] (ka-sa-ho-la): Still under research
Kawani [ka-WAH-ni or ka-WOE-ni] (ka-wa-ni): Perhaps same as Gawanv, or possibly meant to be “April”
Kituhwa [kee-TOO-whah] (gi-tu-wa): Very important early Cherokee settlement; said to be the Mother Town of the tribe
Klonteska [klon-TESS-ka] (tla-ni-te-sga): Research continues. I don’t believe it means “pleasant” as sometimes stated.
Konnaneeta [KAHN-a-NEE-ta] (ka-na-ni-ta): Possibly “young turkey hatchlings,” but I am still researching this one.
Moytoy [MOY-TOY] (perhaps ma-ta-yi): Cherokee chief in first half of the 18th Century. The name is probably an English attempt at the shortened Cherokee form of “Ama-adawehi,” which could be translated as “water wizard” or, by implication, even “rain maker.”
Nodatsi [no-da-CHEE or no-DOTCH-ee] (no-da-tsi or no-da-tli): Spicewood [Lindera benzoin]
Nokassa [no-KAHSS-a or no-CASS-a] (probably na-qui-si): Star. See Hokassa.
Notlvsi [no-TLUN-see or nah-TLUH-see] (one writer’s spelling of na-qui-si or na-tli-si): Star
Notsi [NAH-chee or NO-jee] (na-tsi or no-tsi): Pine
Nunv [NOO-na or NOO-nuh, not NUN-vee!] (nu-nv): Potato
Nvya [NUH-ya or NUN-ya] (ny-ya): Rock [not river]
Oakanoah [OH-ka-NO-a](distorted from u-ga-na-wa): South [also has come to mean "warm" and "Democrat"; pronounced oo-GAH-na-wa in modern Cherokee]. One of the seven Cherokees who went to England in 1730 was Oukanekah; the name of this street may be a distortion of his name.
Ogana[OH-ga-na or oh-GAH-na] (o-ga-na or a-ga-na): Groundhog
Ohwanteska [OH-hwahn-TESS-ka] (o-wa-ni-te-sga): I am still working on this one.
Ortanola [ORR-ta-NO-la] (??): This name is badly distorted. Still in research
Ossarooga [OSS-a-ROO-ga] (??): This one is in research, too.
Ottaray [OTT-a-RAY] (o-ta-ri): Mountain, in an extinct dialect
Qualla [KWAH-la] (qua-la): Cherokee attempt at the word “Polly”; now the name of the Qualla Boundary part of the Eastern Cherokee Reservation
Quanv [KWAH-na] (qua-nv): Peach
Sakkoleeta [SAK-a-LEE-ta] (Perhaps tsa-quo-la-da-gi): Bluebird; Sakonige [sa-KOH-nee-gay] does mean “blue.”
Sali [SAH-lee] (sa-li): Persimmon
Saligugi [SAH-li-GOO-gi] (sa-li-gu-gi): Mud turtle, also called snapping turtle
Salola [sah-LOW-lee or sha-LOW-lee] (sa-lo-li): Gray squirrel
Sedi [SED-i or SAY-dee] (se-di): Walnut
Selu [SAY-loo or SHAY-loo] (se-lu): Corn; corn goddess
Sequoyah [see-KWOI-ya] (si-quo-yi): Probably the most famous historical Cherokee; he invented the Cherokee Syllabary
Setsi [SETCH-ee] (se-tsi): Mound and settlement in Cherokee County, NC; meaning unknown
Sgili [SKILL-ee] (sgi-li): Witch
Soco [SOH-koh] (so-quo-hi): “Number One Place”
Soquili [so-KWEE-lee or show-GWEE-lee] (so-qui-li): Horse
Sunnalee [sun-a-LAY-ee] (su-na-le-i): Tomorrow or morning or evening
Svgata [sun-GAH-ta or SHUNK-ta] (sv-ga-ta): Apple
Taladu [ta-LAH-doo or TAH-la-DOO] (ta-la-du): Cricket [ta-LAH-du] or twelve [TAH-la-DOO)
Tawsee [TAW-see] (to-si): Name of a Cherokee settlement in Habersham County, GA. Meaning unknown. I suspect that the village may have been taken from the Catawba people; if that is the case, in the Catawba language, the name may have referred to a dog, or more likely, to a wolf.
Taya [TAH-ya] (gi-ta-ya): Cherry
Tellico [TELL-i-KOH] (ta-li-qua): Important Cherokee town in TN; Tahlequah, OK, is the same word.
Ticoa [tee-KOH-a] (ti-go-a): Could be a distortion of Toccoa?
Tili [TEE-lee or just TIL-lee as in Tilly] (ti-li): Chestnut or chinquapin
Tinequa [ti-NEH-kwa] (ti-ne-qua; probably ta-ni-qua): Literally, “big louse”; probably Taniqua [ta-NEE-kwa "mole"] was intended.
Tlugvi [tlu-KUH-ee or just TLOO-kuh] (tlu-gv-i): Tree
Tludatsi [tloo-DAH-chee or tlun-DAH-chee] (tlv-da-tsi): Panther, mountain lion
Tsalagi [CHAH-la-KEE or JAH-la-GHEE] (tsa-la-gi): Cherokee
Tsataga [cha-TAW-ga or chee-TAW-ga] (tsi-ta-ga): Chicken
Tsayoga [cha-YO-ga] (tla-yi-ga or tsa-yo-ga): Blue jay
Tsisqua [CHEE-skwah] (tsi-squa): Bird
Tsiya [CHEE-ya] (tsi-ya or tsi-yo or tsi-yu): Otter was probably intended; also can mean canoe or boat
Tsisdu [CHEE-stoo] (tsi-sdu): Rabbit
Tsisdvna [chee-STUN-na] (tsi-sdv-na): Crawfish
Tsitsi [chee-chee] (tsi-tsi): Wren
Tsolv [CHOE-la] (tso-la) : Tobacco
Tsuganawvi [chew-GAH-na-WUN-ee] (tsu-ga-na-wv-i): South [toward the south]
Tsula [CHEW-la] (tsu-la): Red fox
Tsuyvtlvi [chew-yun-TLUN-ee] (tsu-yv-tlv-i): North [toward the north]
Tsvwagi [chuh-WAH-ghee] (tsv-wa-gi): Maple
Udoque [oo-doe-KWAY] (u-do-que, nv-do-que-ya intended): Sourwood [Oxydendron arboreum]
Udvawadulisi [OO-ta-na WAH-doo-LEE-see] (wa-du-li-si u-ta-na intended): Bumblebee [literally "big bee"]
Ugedaliyvi [oo-gay-DAH-lee-YUN-ee] (u-ge-da-li-yv-i): Valley or cove
Ugiladi [oo-gi-LAH-di] (u-gi-da-tli intended): Feather
Ugugu [OO-goo-GOO or oo-GOOG] (u-gu-gu): Hoot owl [Barred owl, Strix varia]
Uloque [oo-LOW-kway] (u-lo-que): Mushroom
Ulvda [oo-LUN-da] (u-lv-da): Poison ivy
Unoga [oo-NO-ga] (u-no-ga): Bass [fish]
Unole [oo-NO-lay] (u-no-le): Storm [or strong wind or tornado]
Unvquolad [oo-NUN-kwo-LAHD] (u-nv-quo-la-tv-i intended): Rainbow
Unutsi [OO-nuh-chee or OON-chee] (u-nv-tsi): Snow
Unvdatlvi [OO-na-dah-TLUN-ee] (u-nv-da-tlv-i; do-da-tlv-i): Mountains [perhaps intended for "they are mountains"?]
Usdasdi [oo-STAH-stee] (u-sda-sdi): Holly
Usgewi [oo-SKAY-wee] (u-sge-wi): Cabbage
Utsonati [oo-cho-NAH-tee] (u-tso-na-ti): Rattlesnake
Utsuwodi [oo-chew-WOE-di] (u-tso-wo-di; I prefer a-la-su-lo): Moccasin
Uwaga [oo-WAH-ga] (u-wa-ga): Passion fruit [Passiflora incarnata, also called "old field apricot"]
Uwohali [uh-WOE-ha-lee] (a-wo-ha-li): Eagle
Uyasga [oo-YAH-ska; better OO-ska] (u-ya-sga or u-sga): Skull
Vdali [un-DAL-lee] (v-da-li): Lake
Wadigei [WAH-di-GAY-ee] (u-wo-di-ge-i): Brown
Waga [WAH-ka or WAH-ga] (wa-ga): Cow [Cheroke pronunciation of Spanish vaca]
Wahuhu [wah-hoo-HOO] (wa-hu-hu): Screech owl [Otus asio]
Walelu [wah-LAY-la] (wa-le-la): Hummingbird
Walosi [wah-LOW-see or wa-LOWSH] (wa-lo-si): Green frog
Wanei [wa-NAY-ee] (wa-ne-i): Walnut
Warwaseeta [WAR-wah-SEE-ta] (wa-wa-si-ta): Said to be the old Cherokee name for Pisgah Ridge in Haywood County, but I cannot document that.
Waya [WAH-ya] (wa-ya): Wolf
Wesa [WAY-sah or way-SHAH] (we-sa): Cat [domestic cat]
Wodigeasgohi [WOE-di-gay ah-SKOE-hee] (wo-di-ge a-sgo-li intended): Copperhead
Yanequa [yah-NEH-kwa] (yo-ne-qua, from yo-na e-qua): Big Bear, Cherokee chief in the late 18th Century
Yona [YO-na] (yo-na): Bear; more commonly spelled Yonah
Yuda [YOO-da] (perhaps gi-yu-ga or yu-ga intended?): Chipmunk [?]
Yunega [yoo-NEH-ga] (Intended for u-ne-ga): White [Yonega is "white man" or "English"]
Note: In the Eastern Cherokee [Giduwa] dialect, most of the syllables beginning with <ts> are pronounced as if they begin with <z>. In many words ending in -i, -hi, or -a, the last syllable is dropped in pronunciation.
Many thanks to Mike Heiser, who kindly provided me with a working list of the street names. Any errors of commission or omission are my fault and not his.
Cherokee Place Names, Part 2
Sometimes, there are all sorts of interesting historical connections among place names. and most of us have forgotten or never knew about those connections. Let’s consider Ellijay, Turniptown, and Whitepath, all in Gilmer County [GA], as one example.
Whitepath was a member of the tribal council which met regularly in the big townhouse at the Cherokee town of Ellijay. He himself lived in a smaller settlement that the white people called Turniptown, on what is now Turniptown Creek. At the council meetings, he spoke out strongly against the Christianity and white man’s ways that the Cherokee were embracing more and more. He was especially concerned with the Cherokee constitution that had been written based on suggestions to the Cherokee from Thomas Jefferson, and he wanted to go back to the old tribal laws and ways of living. By 1828, he had gathered a group of followers and might have started a serious rebellion, but the old ways were too far gone and his supporters faded out. Whitepath was removed from the council for a while, but, later, he gave in and was given back his council seat. He died on the Trail of Tears in 1838.
Now, let’s take a look at the Cherokee words that were translated as Whitepath and as Turniptown.
Whitepath’s Cherokee name was “Nv-no tsu-ne-ga.” The “Nv-no” means “trails” or “paths.” (Don’t forget that we are using the letter “V” for the Cherokee sound “uh” as in English “Uh-huh.”)The “tsu-ne-ga” is the plural form of the word “u-ne-ga,” which means “white.” But, there is more meaning to the name than just “white paths.” To the old Cherokee, the color white was a symbol of peacefulness and happiness and more. After the very important Green Corn Dance–more on that later–the people talked about eating white food and walking on white paths back to their white houses. By all of that, they meant great contentment and happiness and good things. In fact, if a Cherokee man said “I am a white man,” he did not mean that he had suddenly become a white guy! Instead, he meant that he is surrounded by happiness. So, one pretty good translation of Whitepath’s Cherokee name would be “Happy Trails.”
Well, let’s see. So long as we are talking about “white,” the word for “White Man” is “Yo-ne-ga.” From that word, possibly, comes the place name Unaka, in North Carolina, and maybe even Unicoi, but we will take a closer look at those names later. (If he wanted to say “I am a white person,” a Cherokee would have said “Tsi-yo-ne-ga.”) Yonega is also the Cherokee word for the English language.
But, we had better get back to Turniptown and finish the path we started! I live within a mile of Turniptown Road, and only a little further than that from Big Turniptown Creek. Little Turniptown Creek joins the Big one over on the north side of Highway 515 and shortly the resulting bigger creek empties into the Ellijay River. The Indian name for the Turniptown village was “U-lv-yi,” from the word “U-li” and that “-yi” that means “place.” [You remember that I called the -yi a "locative."] The word “U-li” was translated by whites as “turnip,” but it was not a turnip at all. It was instead the name of a kind of plant that grew in the bottom lands along the creeks. The plant itself is actually a kind of wild bean. What makes the plant so special is that it has underground tubers, sometimes lots of them, almost like a string of dark brown beads the size and shape of eggs, and these tubers are very fine eating. They were an important food item; apparently the Cherokee never really got around to cultivating them, but they would plant some near settlements to get them started growing wild if they were not already found there. The name for the tubers themselves was “nu-na.” Later on, when they began to grow potatoes, the word “nu-na” came to be used for what many of us up in these mountains call “Irish potatoes,” and people began to forget about the wild bean that those of us who grew up eating them called “pig potatoes” when we spoke of them in English. Now, sometimes I have even heard them called “nunayusti,” [nuna iysusdi] which means “like potatoes.”
[Source of photo: http://img515.imageshack.us/img515/6781/groundnut1gs7.jpg%5D
Just for the record, that wild bean that grows mostly in rich bottom land has the scientific name Apios americana. Scientists at Purdue University and elsewhere are busy developing varieties that can be cultivated and marketed. Personally, I like the tubers raw; when one peels away the outer brown layer, there is a solid white interior, just a little more mealy than regular potatoes. Boiled, the pig potatoes taste like a cross between boiled peanuts and potatoes; they make good chips, too, and they have about three times as much protein as potatoes. [The so-called "Irish potatoes" were actually a gift of the South American Indians to the world; the Irish people became so dependent upon them that the population of Ireland grew larger than it probably should have at the time. When there was a terrible potato blight in the 1840's, the results were disastrous.]
Among the old Cherokee, one of the seven clans was the Anigatagewi, a name whose translation is lost, but which was [and is] commonly called the Wild Potato clan. Their name was taken from their role as gatherers of the wild potato, an important food in ancient days.
So much for that. We rambled a bit, but with a little purpose. Before we end this segment, we can take a quick look at a few more place names that won’t get us so carried away.
DAHLONEGA: The Cherokee word was “da-la-ni-ge-i,” which means “yellow” or “yellow place.” Yellow, of course, is the color of gold, and gold was discovered in Georgia about 1815. The story goes that an Indian child found a nugget on the Chestatee River banks and brought it to his mother. She sold it to a white man, and the gold rush was on.
AMICALOLA: From the Cherokee words “a-ma u-qua-le-lv-yi.” (There is that locative -yi again.) The “a-ma” means “water.” The other part means something like “place where it makes a rolling sound [like thunder].” As we can see, the original pronunciation got botched up quite a bit in this one when it was taken over into English. Still, a “place where water makes a rolling thunder” is not a bad name for a major waterfall. The name was spelled “Amicolola” until 1899, and it had been “Armacolola” until about 1865. I have often seen it misspelled “Amacola.” The pronunciation of Amicalola is “AMMI-ka-LOW-la.”