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The True Meaning of Des Moines
Linguistic research has shed new light on the meaning of 'Des Moines.' Turns out it might derive from a 330-year-old practical joke. In 1673 Father Jacques Marquette met some representatives of the Peoria indian tribe near the mouth of the modern-day Des Moines River. He asked them the name of the rival tribe that lived further along the banks of the river. The Peoria told him that tribe was called the Moingoana, which became the root for the word 'Moines'. But researcher Michael McCafferty of Indiana University, while studying the now extinct Miami-Illinois language, discovered that Moingoana, translated literally, meant 's**t faces.' Evidently the Peoria were having a little fun at their rival's expense. The city of Des Moines has not yet acknowledged the true meaning of its name.
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 23, 2003
Comments (5)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
Nor do we intend on believing the French priests that came from France to aid in settling this city, named it after the Chappelle des Moines, a small Benedictine Chapel that actually exists in France..... literally making the meaning the city "of the Monks"....or translated to " the place of the priests, or servants of God". The writer of your article had to go to great lengths to discredit what was obvious to begin with.... !!! Get a life...!
Posted by SL DeMeulenaere  on  Mon Jan 04, 2010  at  09:13 AM
It makes more sense for the city to be called the land of the s**t faces then the land of monks...
Posted by Des Moinian  on  Thu Jan 13, 2011  at  07:21 PM
Naming a location after a holy person or place was very characteristic of the early Catholic missionaries (e.g. Corpus Christi, Priest Lake, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento). It is likely that upon hearing the name of the rival tribe - or rather the insulting title - Father Marquette was reminded of the Chappelle des Moines and for this reason chose that particular name. It also fulfills what has been Christian custom - to rename and rededicate a pagan or unholy place to the Kingdom of God. Quite frankly, I would prefer my hometown to be named after monks than s**t faces.
Posted by Rose Marie Doyle  on  Sun Jan 16, 2011  at  05:22 AM
I lived there for 2 years. "Shit Faces" makes way more sense. SLIM PICKINS!
Posted by Vince  on  Sat Sep 01, 2012  at  06:46 PM
Having lived here in Des Moines since 2000, I can honestly say I've not seen anyone walking around with this substance on their face. Nor do we have a high rate of drunkenness that could explain the term. Love the fact that at least one spokesman for the Peoria tribe had the quick wit to pull a fast one on the Jesuit explorer.
Posted by Dan Johnson  on  Wed Jun 12, 2013  at  01:04 PM
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