The Winding River Home: A Journey to Find Meaning

This is a digital edition of a story originally printed in Pellissippi State Community College's Connections magazine. To request a copy of the magazine, please email

They say there are two types of stories: a stranger comes to town, or a man sets out on a journey.

This story is of the second type.

This story is about a word, about how that word traveled throughout history, and about the journey to find that word’s meaning.

Let’s start with the word: Pellissippi.

It’s been part of Pellissippi State Community College’s name since 1988, and for all of that time, the general prevailing opinion has been that Pellissippi derives from the historic name for the Clinch River. The Clinch winds its way from southern Virginia through East Tennessee before emptying into the Tennessee River near Kingston, not far from our College’s Hardin Valley Campus.

Pellissippi was said to mean winding waters in Cherokee. For a long time, no one thought to question that.

But recently, we’ve learned that Pellissippi doesn't mean winding waters after all. Nor is it Cherokee. And we’d like to set the record straight.

Read the full story.

What does Pellissippi mean to you? Tell us using the hashtag #pellissippimeans.

Clinch River with mist