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Soils with American Indian Names

white flint American Indian arrowhead

Vermont Soils with Names of American Indian Origin

Soil series are often named for geographic places. For example, "Vergennes" clay is a predominant soil in the Champlain Valley and other parts of New England. Many geographic names in Vermont and throughout the US are derived from the white settler's adaptations of the original American Indian place names. Thus, there are a number of soil names that have Native American roots.

Native Americans were the first farmers in this country. Many of the crops we commonly consume, such as corn, squash and beans were introduced to the Colonial settlers by American Indians. The First Nation Tribes had a well developed understanding of the characteristics of productive farmland. Alluvial soils with loamy soil textures and good drainage were used for cultivation, even now they still hold artifacts of the original inhabitants of this land. The Abenaki Tribe, who occupied a large portion on Northern New England, has many ways of characterizing different soils in their language. Their system existed long before modern day soil scientists developed classification systems (download the article "The First Conservationists" at the bottom of the page to learn more).

The following is a sampling of some Vermont Soils that have names of American Indian Origin. For a more complete listing download the article "Soils with American Indian Names" at the bottom of the page.


4000 year old spearhead Agwam

The Agawam lived in the Connecticut River Valley near Springfield, MA. Agawam was the name of a Penacock village in northeastern Massachusetts.


Canandaigua was a Seneca Tribe village that was destroyed during the campaign by the American Army under General John Sullivan in 1779.  Canandaigua may have been derived from kanandarque which means the chosen spot.


The Abenaki name for Mount Monadnock in southeast New Hampshire is menonadenak, which means smooth mountain.


Scantic may have been derived from Scanticook which was a Podunk Tribe Village or Scantic could have been derived from the Nipmuc word scatacook, meaning fork in the river.


Taconic may have been derived from a Mohegan or Natick word which means wild forest or the Delaware word tatchan which means woodland.


Articles you can download to learn more:

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.
Soils with American Indian Names (18KB)
The First  Conservationists (22KB)