Fakahatchee--What does it mean?
My friend Earl was here for a visit. We did the local cultural tour today and visited some of the little-known sites about the local history. One thing we talked about was the local settlers who moved into the area of the Ten Thousand Islands before there were roads, and the only way to get around was by boat. We visited a couple cemeteries on Chokoloskee Island, which are on remains of the shell mounds that once covered the entire island. Chokoloskee may have been a shell mound complex similar to Mound Key, but most of the aboriginal evidence has been destroyed. But since the cemeteries remained, the shell mound remains under the cemetery still exist.
One of the areas we talked about was Fakahatchee Bay and Fakahatchee Island. I was planning on writing about the meaning of the word Fakahatchee. One of my astute readers, must have somehow known I was going to write about this, and actually sent me a link about a visit to the island during 1965. It was pertinent to what I wanted to talk about.
Most people are familiar with Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, the orchids, and the spectacular photography. But besides the preserve, the name is also applied to the Fakahatchee River, Fakahatchee Island, and Fakahatchee Bay. These are all parts of a long strip of land covering a few hundred square miles from north of Interstate 75 down to the Ten Thousand Islands.
At one time there was community on Fakahatchee Island on the bay of the same name in the Ten Thousand Islands. Not much remains of the community, except a cemetery on the island.
But what does the name Fakahatchee mean? It does show up on documents from the Second Seminole War, which was really the first time there was an attempt to map the area, in the 1840s. Sprague mentions army scouts on the headwaters of the Fakahatchee River.
Hatchee is root word for creek, river, or steam.
A local publication on the history of Everglades City says that the name Fakahatchee means, "muddy water." I don't know where they got that information, but that is not correct.
Looking at two different Muskogee language dictionaries, there are a few clues. But it is not "muddy water." The Muskogee words for muddy water is Ue-okofkE, or Ue-svholwakE. Not even close.
One Muskogee word could be FakkE, meaning soil, loam, dirt, clay. But this doesn't seem to fit. The k in Muskogee usually has a "g" sound. So we have a double-g sound with a long e. It doesn’t fit. Besides, soil, dirt, or clay does not fit Fakahatchee for anyone who knowns the area and has tromped through the swamp.
Another word is Fvkv, for a rope, cord, vine, sting, or arteries. In Muskogee, the "v" is a vowel, or "uh" shound. Vines or arteries, maybe. The strand is like arteries that drain into the estuaries.
Then there is Faka, for a hunt or a chase. Maybe? And area for hunting? Fakahatchee Strand has long been known to be that.
The link my friend sent me was this:
Fakahatchee Island (1965) Home of “Big Pig”
It details a visit by some boys in 1965 who encountered a big hog on the island. Hogs were brought there by the early settlers and hunted for food.
Hunting river? Maybe!