Idaho Isn't 'Ee-da-how,' After All


By Jay Michaels

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Everything from towns to lakes and rivers across the United States get some of their names from Native American languages.

But what about the name of our own state? We did some digging to come up with the real answer.

Mathew Durand from the College of Southern Idaho Drama Department says, "Ee-da-how! The sun is coming down the mountain!"

Fellow student Daniel Gardner says, "Actually, that's not what it means at all."

Librarian Darbie Chocker says, "The meaning of the word Idaho, I also learned this in 4th grade history, but cannot recall. I know it's a Native American name. But Idaho, I don't know, it's a good question. I'm a librarian and I don't know the answer to that."

Local resident Earl Petersen says, "Actually I do not know what the actual meaning of Idaho means. But I always can come up with my own definition, how about that?"

In the early 1860s, when the US Congress was thinking about a new territory in the Rocky Mountains, lobbyist George M. Willing suggested the name "Idaho." He explained it came from the Shoshone Indian language, and it meant "gem of the mountains" or "the sun comes from the mountains." But later Willing admitted that he just made up the name himself.

Despite that, many Idaho history textbooks in recent years still stated the name "Idaho" comes from the Native American term "Ee-da-how." These days, local residents point out that the Gem State has a rich heritage featuring Native Americans and pioneers who came west to live here.

Local resident Tamara Harmon says, "The settlers that came to Idaho and settled it. And with that heritage comes the agricultural irrigation system on which our valley is specifically sustained."

Earl Petersen adds, "In my opinion, the very best state that we have. It has so many treasures, wonderful people. It's a very unified state as far as everybody coming together, and being an actual community, and doing it for each person individually. That's what Idaho is to me."

Idaho native Erica Littlefield says, "This is where I've always lived, and so Idaho to me means home."

Mathew Durand asks, "So you're telling me that some random white guy just made this up?"

Daniel Gardner replies, "Yeah, well, that's how things go sometimes."

Mathew says, "And we're teaching our kids about this?"

Daniel points out, "It just goes to show that you shouldn't believe everything you read."

So the next time your visit your local library, you may want to doublecheck the history books there.

May 1, 2013.

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