Place Names - Hawk Creek & Yellow Medicine

Hawk Creek & Yellow Medicine River

Hawk Creek
Hawk Creek was named for the European Kestrel (a small falcon). Translation of Dakota name for hawk chetambe. (Upham)

(1) sparrow-hawk (2) to hatch (3) creek (both forks).
Known to the French as “Riviere aux Eperviers” (river of hawks); also as “L’eau de Vie” (water of life). (Durand)

Yellow Medicine River
The Yellow Medicine River got its name from the Dakota for the bitter, yellow roots of the moonseed plant, growing as lush vines in thickets along the stream banks. The Dakota dug the yellow root of the moonseed and used it as a medicine.

The yellow medicine is the long, slender, bitter, yellow root of the moonseed (Menispermum canadesnse), which grows abundantly in thickets in this region. The name of the river and the county is derived from the root of this plant. The Dakota name is Pajutaze abbreviated from Pezhihutazizi kapi. Peji, generic name, including grasses and all other erect plants without wood stems; huta, root; zi, yellow; kapi, they dig; diggings of the yellow plant root, the Dakota name of the Yellow Medicine River. (Upham)

(1) herbs (2) roots (3) yellow (4) to dig (5) river
The yellow medicine referred to is the moonseed, any of a genus of plants with crescent shaped seeds having small flowers of narcotic properties. From the roots of this plant comes the name of the river, present day Yellow Medicine River. (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