Agawam Historical Assocation

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Events & Education

Origin of the name "Agawam"

Posted by [email protected] on June 23, 2017 at 9:50 AM

As we all know, our town's name is Agawam. A good solid Indian/Native American name! And if we were to take a poll on where the name came from, 75% of the town would probably answer, it's Mawaga, the name of the Indians who lived in this area, spelled backwards! And although it's true that Agawam backwards is Mawaga, the other half of that statement is not true. So where does the name Agawam come from?

The most detailed history book on Agawam is by Edith LaFrancis. And this is what the paragraph about the name says:

"Indians obviously did not name towns, they named areas and contours of land. Thus the above described land was Agawam. The word comes from two Algonquin words, "Aggu," low land: and "wame," meaning wholly low or all surrounded by higher ground.

The descendants of people who had been living here for a thousand years, these Agawam Indians were Algonquins and a branch of the Pocumtucks at Deerfield. Their tribal territory extended into Enfield, Suffield, Granby, Hartland (Connecticut), and Southwick, with the two chief villages in Agawam and at Congamond Lakes in Southwick. On the east it extended to the Nipmuck country and on the west to the disputed land."

There's a whole chapter on the Indians in the book, and this website I found interesting and it confirms what the book says. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/…/massachusetts-indian-tribe…;

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