The East Coast Origin of Wyoming’s Name
It is a beautiful name. We love saying it. We are proud to say it. But where does the name Wyoming come from?
There are many names that sound very different in other languages. In this case, Wyoming comes from what we call the Delaware Indian. We say Delaware but they pronounce it Lenape. The Lenape have a word that sounds something like mecheweami-ing, when they say it phonetically. That word means “at/on the big plains”. But that tribe was describing a place in Pennsylvania. The new white settlers in the area thought they heard the natives saying Wyoming. So they called it the Wyoming Valley.
Other sources say the name Wyoming is based on an Algonquin Indian word meaning "large prairie place."
U.S. Representative James M. Ashley of Ohio proposed the name “Wyoming Territory” in 1865. He knew the name because he was born in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. Eventually, Mr. Ashley traveled out the see the place that he had named. But he went home with second thoughts, saying “…there was not enough fertility in the soil to subsist a population sufficient for a single congressional district. Not one acre in a thousand can be irrigated.” But it was too late. The land had been named.
Wyoming was not the only name considered for our great state. Others were Cheyenne, Shoshoni, Arapaho, Sioux, Platte, Big Horn, Yellowstone and Sweetwater.