Reptiles & Amphibians Of Mankato
Herping the Siouxland.
What's This??? Sounds funny doesn't it. Well, let me explain. I've been
debating whether I should call it that or not...but when you get down to
really is the most accurate description of what I've been doing around
years. OK. First of all. A few definitions are in
Herpetology: The study of Reptiles and
Herpers: The People who study Reptiles and Amphibians.
Herps: Slang for
individual Reptiles and Amphibians. Many of which can often times make nice
pets. Not to be confused with...
A sexually transmitted Viral Infection, which certainly does Not make a nice
pet at all.
We can all thank this terminology to a Swedish Botanist
and Physician named
Carl Linnaeus who laid down the foundations for the modern
of taxonomy and is also known as one of the founding fathers of modern
However...Carl was a 'Plant Guy' and apparently didn't like Reptiles and
Amphibians very much at
...."These foul and loathsome animals are abhorrent because of their
pale color, cartilaginuos skeleton, filthy skin, fierce aspect,
offensive smell, harsh voice, squalid habitation, and terrible venom;
their Creator has not exerted his powers to make more of them." -
(So it would seem...this is how we got stuck with the terminology.)
Thanks a lot, Carl!
Now...On to the next word...
This area includes present day Southwest Minnesota, Northwest Iowa and
South Dakota. My earliest recollection of the name "Siouxland" came from
the works of
Frederick Manfred...an early literary hero of mine who also lived ON the
Blue Mound itself before that portion of the quartzite highlands became part of
Blue Mounds State Park. It was at this place that he wrote some of
favorite works: "Scarlet Plume"..."Lord Grizzly"...and "Conquering
tales of the frontier from a local
OK. Moving right along. The word "Sioux" is a name
commonly used to describe the 7 tribes of the Dakota Nation.
The word itself originated from a bit of nasty 'name calling' by their old
neighbors to the north...the Ojibwe.
Here is a description
of how it came to be from my old friend Emmett Smith
(independent professor and amateur historian) who was "adopted" by a Chippewa family years ago and
learned their language:
"IT [/sioux/] is abbreviated from the French phonetic rendering of an
word for the Lakota peoples (Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, ie): /Nadowessioux/
(w/an >accent grave< over the /e/), or 'little
In /ojibwemowin/ (phonetically) this is: 'Nah
doh way sue'
IT Is a diminutive of /nadowe/ ['nah doh way'], or '(big)
--and THAT was an uncomplimentary Chippewa name for (you guessed
it!) ...The Iroquois. (back East)!
(MY Adopted people have done rather well in the business of fobbing off
uncomplimentary tribal names for neighbors, onto the goggling white people.)
Hence, now we call the /Ho Chunk/ people 'Winnebagoes',
which means [approximately] 'Dirty Water Folks', probably because they lived
mainly downstream from the Ojibwe, at least in historical times, in Wisconsin.)
ONE Source indicates that 'nah doh way sue' means
also, specifically, massasauga rattle-snake(s)--if so,
this must be northern /ojibwemowin/, as the only name for snake that I learnt,
as I recall, is 'kanabec'."
...ALL (Belatedly!) for now, Prof Corbeau. (Thanks Emmett!)
And so now we have the full explanation
of the terminology for "Herping the Siouxland."
...or "Searching the 'Small Snake' country.
>---(:-~-~-~-~-~- - - The map up above pretty much shows the
range limits of my annual wanderings.
The major river valleys shown are (from left to right) ...the James, the
Sioux, the Rock river, Des Moines river, the Blue Earth and
Minnesota. I'll be interested to hear from anyone who lives in or near
circle. Let me know what you see crawling around out