American River Names

Rick Mc Callister rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu
Tue Apr 3 07:02:13 UTC 2001

	I've seen it written that Waco comes from a Native American
language BUT I've seen the same thing said about patently Spanish names
such as Pedernales. Unless there is proof to the contrary, I'd say that
Waco is Tejano Spanish <hueco> "spring that pools up from the ground" <
standard Spanish "hole". There are plenty of names such as the redundant
"Hueco Tanks". OTOH Spanish speakers in Texas generally assume that Texas
is from Spanish <tejas> "tiles" because of the red soil but locally, it's
said that it from the name of a local Native American confederacy meaning

>The name "Waco" (and "Hueco"?)  for
>example, is from Tonkawa, and the Tonkawas were about as marginal as tribes
>got.  Yet evidently some Europeans bothered to talk to them, rather than
>regarding them as non-existent.  Moving westward, my impression is that the
>valley of California was rather densely populated (by Amerindian standards),
>yet the same phenomenon of (largely) Spanish river names occurs there.
>        So though low population density probably is a factor, I doubt that
>is can be considered decisive.
>Dr. David L. White

Rick Mc Callister
Mississippi University for Women
Columbus MS 39701

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