Origin and History of the Minnesota Place Name
Native Americans living in the Upper Mississippi River region gave names to rivers and streams long before Europeans arrived to settle on the land. One major river in today’s state of Minnesota, the Minnesota River, was named Minisotah by the Dakota Sioux Indians. Early French explorers called it Riviėre St. Pierre (St. Peter’s River in English). On a map of the region by Joseph N. Nicollet, published in 1842, the river was labeled Minisotah or St. Peter’s River. The Indian name was later adopted with a slight change as the name for Minnesota Territory in 1849 and Minnesota when statehood was achieved in 1858. During the process of forming the Territory of Minnesota, four different ways were offered for spelling the territory’s name.