Owashtanong

In case you’re only here because you saw a section of the paper called Owashtanong and wanted to know what the hell that even means, you deserve to have the answer right away.  We thought about having you click through a couple more screens, and a few dozen banner ads in order to get the answer, but I put my foot down.

Map-Grand_riverOwashtanong means “far flowing waters”, and was the word for the Grand River used by Native Americans (or Indians, if you’re over a certain age) in the western Michigan area, before there was a falling out over the naming of the river, and we had to kick them out in order to name it the Grand River. We wanted the Grand River, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Grand Haven, Grand Ledge – we white folks wanted everything to be GRAND, and all those hard-to-pronounce words of theirs simply didn’t work.  Who wants to stop at a gas station and ask, “Can you tell me how to get to the far flowing waters…?”  It could almost be described as a break-up over ‘creative differences’.

We decided the Grand River Times would use Owashtanong for anything that doesn’t easily fit another section, and we’re too small to over-clutter our Menu-bar for no good reason.  Far flowing waters…, it does have a nice ring to it.  So we’re also paying homage to our local heritage, and giving out some retroactive admiration and respect to those Native Americans – they gave the river a great name!  You could even say it’s a Grand Name. [Ed.]

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  8 comments for “Owashtanong

  1. James
    May 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I am “only here because (I) saw a section of the paper called Owashtanong and wanted to know what the hell that even means.” Thank you!

  2. Steve
    May 20, 2014 at 4:06 am

    I only came here to see if anyone commented on a section of the paper with a hard to pronounce name. Thanks, James, for making my day…

  3. Ruth
    May 20, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Now I am educated, and a better person for it. OWASHTANONG!

  4. Kim
    May 21, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Fact to share…did you know Ottawa County has over 800 drains. The “Grand” water flows everywhere throughout the county. I found this information and the description of a “drain” very informative, especially when building homes or modifying your property.

  5. JohnR
    May 21, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    The last time I was in Grand Haven gassing up the car I asked “Can you tell me how to get to the far flowing waters?”. The attendant said “It’s around the left side of the building towards the back but you’ll need to grab the key inside next to the cash register.”

    • Kay Scala
      May 22, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Ha, Ha……………..:)

  6. Rusty Anker
    November 20, 2014 at 10:55 am

    As a former Grand Haven Resident – Thanks for the information. I now reside in steeple city (Holland) where the Black Lake is named Macatawa. Apparently a Native American name was better than referring to the lake and river as Black or Muddy Drain. Dismal Seepage would also have been appropriate when some years back a local pig farmers sewage lagoon broke and lots of fish died from the porkie poo!

  7. Lavonne
    June 15, 2016 at 6:44 am

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

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