The Naming and Spelling of Mankato, MInnesota

Dr. William E. Lass
Issue Date: 
Summer 2015

The story of Mankato’s name is interesting in that it is commonly cited as a misinterpretation between the indigenous Dakota population and the colonial Anglo-Saxons. Traditionally, the area was referred to as “Mahkato” but in a clerical tragedy it was recorded as “Mankato”. Scholars have now proven that this tale is false and that using various sources, including Stephen Rigg’s dictionary A Dakota-English Dictionary published in 1852, the area would have actually been spelled “Makato”. The historical inaccuracy would actually seem to lie, not in a clerical mistake, but rather in a miscommunication of phonetics. 

Key Word Search Terms: 
Mankato, Mahkato, Dakota, Makato