Its name is from a modified Ojibwa term meaning “southern”; it was the southern boundary of the Ojibwa nation. A Menominee chief named Sawanoh led a band that lived in the area. Many citizens of Shawano believe the lake, county, and city (Town of Shawanaw founded 1853 and changed to Shawano in 1856), were named after Chief Sawanoh. A historical marker placed in 1958 near the lake along Highway 22 states the lake was named as the southern boundary of Chippewa (Ojibwe) territory.
Various historical recordings of the spelling of Shawano include: Sawanoh, Shawanaw, Sharuno, Shabin, Savannah, Savanah… which show the influence of French, German, and English translation (v’s, w’s, and b’s, sounding very similar and thus being recorded incorrectly at times). Similar differences in spelling have been seen in the following versions: Mahican/Mahikan/Maikens tribe or Mohecan/Morhican/Mohican tribe, all referring to the same Algonquian-speaking people.
Enjoy the wildlife, the scenery, and friendly communities. Whatever you choose as your favorite pastime, Shawano County has a trail system, with nearby accommodations, to satisfy your quest for adventures. While you are here, enjoy our museums and historical sites, unique shops and galleries, and community festivals.