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Minnehaha is a fictional Native American woman documented in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1855 epic poem The Song of Hiawatha. She is the lover of the titular protagonist Hiawatha. The name is often incorrectly said to mean "laughing water", though in reality it translates to "waterfall" or "rapid water" in Dakota. She is the subject of the poem, and later song, cantata, and painting, The Death of Minnehaha.
Minnehaha is also the name of a ship that wrecked off the western shore of Lake Michigan in 1893.
Her name is connected to many things in Minnesota, such as Minnehaha Falls, Minnehaha Park, Minnehaha Creek, Minnehaha Academy, and the name of a boat once operated by Twin City Rapid Transit on Lake Minnetonka, which has now been restored and is at the Museum of Lake Minnetonka. Minnehaha Avenue and Hiawatha Avenue are both major thoroughfares that run parallel to each other, heading southeast from downtown Minneapolis, and yet another Minnehaha Avenue that runs east-west through Saint Paul. The Hiawatha Line, part of the Twin Cities' light rail system, is named after the latter avenue.
Her name is also linked to the name of a town called Minnehaha Springs, located in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. In Florida, there are two lakes named Minnehaha: one is on the Clermont Chain of Lakes in Clermont, Florida, one of the Outstanding Florida Waterbodies; the other is in Maitland, Florida, linked to the Winter Park chain of lakes. Minnehaha Falls in Lakemont, Georgia is a beautiful 100-foot cascading waterfall near Lake Rabun. Minnehaha Island is in the Potomac River in Montgomery County, Maryland ( ). A creek known as Minnehaha Branch empties into the Potomac at Glen Echo, Maryland. There is a Minnehaha Bay in the small town of Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, Canada. Lake Minnehaha is located in the center of Holliday Park in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Her name is also linked to Minnehaha County in South Dakota and Minnehaha Covenant Church and Minnehaha Park in Spokane, Washington. There is also the census-designated place of Minnehaha, Washington, which is located within the city of Vancouver.
Probably the most peculiar association is the Roca Minnehaha, an island near Easter Island and Sala y Gómez Island in Chile. There are two avenues in suburbs of Auckland, New Zealand named after her, in Titirangi and Takapuna.
In its Germanized form, Mine-Haha, the name was used by the German writer Frank Wedekind for the heroine of his 1903 novella Mine-Haha, or On the Bodily Education of Young Girls.
Longfellow's poem was also used by Hugo Kaun in his symphonic poems "Minnehaha" and "Hiawatha", composed in 1901.
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