How Koi Fish Got Their Name

colorful koi






As you might expect, words over time get a little altered from their original sound. Think of the old “grapevine” game you used to play as a kid -by the end, the original phrase was seriously changed. 

Now lets look at the original term for koi which is the Japanese word “nishikigoi”, which literally means brocaded carp.  You’ll notice that the end of the word looks very similar to the modern word “koi” -that’s because through time and through thousands of conversations about these fish the original term got shortened to “koi” from the ending “goi”. 

Now the exact origins of the actual fish are still unknown, yet there is a common belief that they originated around the areas of Western Asia and Persia.  In the 17th century Chinese farmers were keeping carp in their rice paddies and that practice was later incorporated in Japan as well.

Koi are essentially ornamental versions of carp that, through time and color mutations, began displaying colors beyond that of the drab brown of carp.  Those colorful ones were selected by hand to be bred to produce even more of these curious colored carp and eventually we got the art of koi breeding.

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Hammock’s Deep History






Back in the day (waaaay back in the day) there was a tribe that centered itself around what is now Florida as well as the West Indies.  This tribe was called the Arawakan.  A subsection of this tribe that lived in Haiti was called the Taino people.  

They used a word for fish nets that looked something like amaca.  They also used this netting technology to sleep in which was an early form of what is know today as a hammock.  When Spanish explorers met these people and saw their fish net style beds they interpreted the word a little differently than “amaca” and eventually turned it into “hamaca” and of course through time it became “hammock”.

For a deeper look into hammock history take a look at this article.


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Michigan gets a name…from the Indians


Michigan State flag

Michigan State flag









The year was 1837 when Michigan joined the Union.  Prior to this time the area now known as Michigan was inhabited by, among others, an Algonquian-speaking tribe known as the Ojibwa.  The Ojibwa people had a word for this area surrounded by the Great Lakes –“mishigamma” which, appropriately means “large water”.   As with many state names that started as something else, michigamma evolved linguistically into Michigan.  The reference to water as the Ojibwas suggests if very appropriate as the state boasts almost 65,000 lakes and ponds.  In fact, a Michigander cannot go more than six miles in any direction from anywhere in Michigan without hitting some body of freshwater.  Additionally, there are five Great Lakes and Michigan touches four out of five of them.         The first non-Native American inhabitants to the area were French settlers and explorers.  The area was largely French controlled until some decisive wars in the late 1700’s that resulted in control being lost to the British (1763).  Since Michigan became part of the Union it has achieved 8th place in the most populated states in the United States.  Additionally, Michigan is known as the Wolverine state despite a 2004 wolverine sighting being the first in nearly 200 years.

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Ohio: Home of the Buckeyes

Ohio Flag

Ohio State Flag








Before buckeyes made their mark on this area now known as Ohio it was populated largely by the Adena peoples in the early days of 1000 BC. More recently however, the Ohio region was populated by the Iroquois people. It is the Iroquois that saw a French takeover of the land which was later ceded to the British. After the Revolution the region came under American control but the name for the area would take an Iroquois name meaning “great river”. The word they used was “ohi-yo” and referred to the Ohio River. Of course with many names through time they morph into something a little different than how they started out and in this case “ohi-yo” turned into “Ohio”. Ohio is now the 7th most populated state and is known by many as the “buckeye state” due to its native tree the American Buckeye.

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Pennsylvania gets a name

pennsylvania state flag

Pennsylvania State Flag









In the early days, the region now known as Pennsylvania was, not surprisingly, inhabited by many Native American tribesmen.  At least five Native American tribes lived in the area which included the Delaware and Erie tribes.  In the 1600’s one could find a great deal of settlement in the area by the Europeans- mostly the Dutch and Swedish.  Later in 1664 control was lost to the British and subsequently became a British Colony. As it were King Charles II owed a large sum of money to a man named Sir William Penn -an English Admiral.  Sir William died in 1670 however leaving his son (also William Penn) to inherit the debt owed to his family.  So in 1681 King Charles II gave William Penn the area of land now known as Pennsylvania.  William started a colony which took his family’s name as well as “sylvania” meaning “forest” in Latin.  Pennsylvania is now the 6th most populated state with over 12 million people.

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How Illinois got its name

illinois state flag

Illinois State Flag








The region now known as Illinois was previously occupied by Native Americans for thousands of years prior to European settlement –perhaps as long as 7,000 years.  In the 1600’s French explorers began to map the area including many of its waterways.  They came upon a native people called the “Illiniwek”.  The Illiniwek people were really a conglomeration of various tribes.  Due to French pronunciation and spelling Illiniwek evolved into Illinois and wasn’t seen in the literature as such until the 1670’s.  In 1763 possession of Illinois transferred from the French to the British and then to the United States in 1783.  Illinois is now the 5th most populated state in the United States.

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Don’t mess with Texas’…History

texas flag

Texas Flag








Currently the second most populated and the second largest state in the United States  Texas was historically inhabited by a conglomeration of Native American tribes known as the Caddo.  The Spanish were one of the first non-natives to colonize the region and made friends with the Caddo Nation.  In fact, the Caddo word for friends or allies is “tejas” and that is how the Spanish referred to these people and the region.  Tejas, of course, evolved into what we now call “Texas”.  The Texas flag brandishes a single star hence the nickname “the lonestar state”.  The lone star indicates that Texas was once an independent republic known as the Republic of Texas before achieving statehood.

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California: A land of mythical beasts and Amazon women

california state flag

California State Flag









Spain was one of the first to lay claim to an area of land that now encompasses the Baja, California, Nevada, Utah, as well as some areas of Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico.  The actual name of California referring to the described area came from a reference in a fictional novel by Spanish novelist Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo.  In this novel written in 1510 (The Adventures of Esplandian) Montalvo describes a tribe of female Amazonian warriors living on a paradise island ruled by a Queen named Calafia.  This land rich in gold and other treasures was guarded by these legendary women warriors as well as several hundred trained griffins (a mythical creature composed of the body of a lion with the wings and head of an eagle).  California, whose name is based on the fictional Queen Calafia, is now the most populated state in the United States.

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New York and the Big Apple

new york state flag

New York State Flag









The region that would become New York was previously inhabited by the Native American tribes of the Algonquin and Iroquois.  In the early 1600’s the Dutch explored and named much of the area but later gave up the lands to the British.  In the late 1600’s New York was named for James Stuart who, at the time, was the Duke of York (a title of nobility).  James Stuart would go on to become James II, King of England.  Much later, in the 1920’s, a now booming New York City picked up the nickname “the big apple”via a writer for the New York Morning Telegraph who, at the time, was writing about horse racing.  The writer’s name was John J. Fitz Gerald and he continued referring to New York City as “the Big Apple” in later writings as well as other writers in different contexts.   Later in the 1930’s “the Big Apple” became a popular song and dance.

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Florida finally gets a name

florida state flag

Florida State Flag









Often called the Sunshine State due to its many days filled with sunshine, Florida does not actually have more sunshine days than any other state –that honor goes to Arizona.  Florida was first settled by Native Americans around 15,000 years ago but was “officially” named by the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon in April of 1513.  One naming method used by the Spanish for newly discovered lands is to name it after a recent Spanish holiday.  In this particular case that would be Easter however in Spain this time of the year is referred to as Pascua Florida or flowery festival.  The name, of course, was shortened over time to what it is today.

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