Place Names - Redwood River

Redwood River

Translation of the Dakota name Chanshyapi (chan meaning "wood", sha meaning "red", and ayapi meaning "are on".) The Dakotas named the river based on abundance of a straight slender bush with red bark, which they scraped off and smoked, usually mixed with tobacco. This redwood is a particular sort of willow, with an under bark of a reddish color, which they dry and smoke. When mixed with tobacco it makes what they call Kinnee Kinnik, and is much less offensive than common tobacco. (Upham)

Other ideas for the Dakota name of the Redwood River include (1) the red cedar trees on its bluffs at Redwood Falls or (2) trees there marked by spots of red paint for guidance of war party at some time during the ancient warfare between the Ojibwe and the Dakota for ownership of this region. (Upham)

(1) wood (2) red (3) creek. Redwood is a term for tobacco. (Durand)

(1) wood (2) to paint red (3) plural suffix (4) river. The Redwood River. This refers to a former oak tree so painted for offerings and prayers. It was located on the edge of the rock bluff near the west end of the bridge at Redwood Falls and was repainted yearly. This tree is regarded as a memorial of a battle between the Dakotas and the Cheyennes about 1775. (Upham, Durand)



Watersheds | Blue Earth | Chippewa | Cottonwood | Hawk Creek | Lac qui Parle | Le Sueur | Pomme de Terre | Redwood | Watonwan | Yellow Medicine | Minnesota River |

Upham, Warren (1969) Minnesota Geographic Names. Minnesota Historical Society: St. Paul, MN
Durand, Paul (1994) Where the Waters Gather and the Rivers Meet: An Atlas of the Eastern Sioux. Prior Lake, MN
Minnesota Place Names


This page was last updated 4/15/11