Gros Ventre River
Title:Gros Ventre River
Feature Category:Water Features
Origin Of Name:Edward Umfreville, who visited these Indians in 1784-97 when they lived around the falls of the south branch of the Saskatchewan River says that the French call them "Gros Ventre", or Big Bellies; and without any reason, as they are a comely and as well made as any tribe whatever, and are very far from being remarkable for their corpulency. (WPA) There are at least two stories connected with the name, Gros Ventre. It is a French phrase meaning big vent or opening. Whether the mountains and river were named after the Indians or vice versa is a question. According to Marie M. Fraser in the "Old Trails of Wyoming", the legend runs as follows: 'There were two tribes of the Gros Ventre Indians. One was a poor wandering tribe that was nearly always hungry. They often went around begging for food. Of course they used sign language. Their way of saying that they were hungry was to run their hands over their stomachs. The French knew the signs but the Indians they saw looked big and fat to them so they decided that the sign meant "big stomach" instead of "empty stomach." Therefore they named the Indians the Gros Ventres. The other Gros Ventre tribe was not related to this poor one. Their tribal sign or mark was three signs around their waist. To say it in sign language an Indian of this tribe stretched three fingers on each hand around his waist line. This sign also was wrongly interpreted by the French trappers so they named this tribe too, the 'Gros Ventres.' According to the second version, the French traders and trappers saw the great gap which the river cuts through the mountains and called it the Gros Ventre, meaning big or great opening. The high range of mountains was given the same name. The tribes of Indians roamed over the Gros Ventre country and were called the Gros Ventres after the river and the mountains. (WPA)
Link:Search Wyoming Places
Document ID:11139429

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