Where did the Mississippi River get its name?
The Native American communities that used the river for transportation and food long before any European knew of its existence called the massive river “The Father of Waters,” or Misi Sipi (Big River). For a time, Spanish explorers trying to find the river’s headwaters called it Rio Grande (also translated as “Big River”), an apt name for a river that discharges 600,000 cubic feet of water per second when it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The source of the river is Lake Itasca, near Bemidji, Minnesota. The lake was named by Indian agent Henry Rowe Schoolcraft in 1832. Itasca is from the Latin veritas caput, meaning “true head.”