The word Niangua is rooted in the Osage language. It means "many springs," in reference to the springs that fed the river. (Note the similarity to the word Niagara, which is Iroquois for "strait.")
The Niangua River, however, had other names. The Osage themselves did not call it Niangua, but rather Ne-hem-gar, meaning, "bear." Black bears were abundant in the region. When explorer Zebulon Pike came through the area in 1806, in the company of several Osage Indians, he could not quite fashion what they were saying, so he wrote it down on his maps as the Yungar River.
© 1999-2000 by Michael Gillespie. All rights reserved.