Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beavers - What's In A Name?

I’ve been thinking about beavers, and how the beaver gave its name to so many places around the state of Oregon (and in other states as well). According to the Oregon Geographical Names book, there are 62 Beaver Creeks in Oregon, and that does not include the Beaver Dam Creeks, Beaver Ponds, Beaver Lakes, Beaver Springs, etc. I counted 168 sites that include “beaver” in the name.
The area of Seal Rock was the site of an Alsea Indian village called “Kitau.”  Beaver Creek was referred to as “Nackito” River by Alexander McLeod, leader of the Hudson’s Bay Expedition of 1826 exploring the central coast region [this appears to be derived from the Alsea “Ne-Kitau,” “Ne” meaning a place name or village to the north, within the territory of the Kitau community].  Beaver Creek still has strong ties to Seal Rock, and is in the same postal zone and fire district, for example.  
Here’s an odd coincidence. My family name was originally Majaniemi, it roughly means in Finnish, “hut on a headland.” The word for beaver in Finnish is “majava” (means something like “hut maker”). I only discovered these parts of my family history within the last ten years or so and realized that these words describe where I live--on Beaver Creek in a hut (or small house) on a headland overlooking the area. Strange, but true!
Posted by jackie.

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