What Does Bottineau Mean?

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Key Takeaways:

  • The name Bottineau has references to multiple places in the US.
  • The exact meaning and origin of the name are unknown.
  • Some sources suggest it means “spiritual, helper, intuitive.”
  • Bottineau is the name of a city and county in North Dakota.
  • It’s also a neighborhood in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • The name has a numerology number of 8.


The surname Bottineau is connected to several places and geographic locations within the United States. Most notably, it is the name of a small city and a county in North Dakota. Additionally, it is a neighborhood found in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Despite these familiar references, the origin and meaning behind the name Bottineau remain elusive.

This article will provide a comprehensive look at what is known about the name Bottineau, its suspected meanings, and the various places around the U.S. that bear this appellation. Discovering the roots of a surname can often unravel hidden or forgotten aspects of history. Even if the precise origin of Bottineau cannot be pinpointed, examining its trail across different states and locales can offer valuable insights.

With an open and investigative approach, readers can gain a fuller understanding of the name Bottineau, its uncertain background, and its emergence in multiple parts of the United States. The aim is to synthesize the limited information available from disparate sources into one accessible guide. While definitional questions may remain, this exploration sheds light on a noteworthy name in American history and geography.

Where is Bottineau Referenced in the United States?

The name Bottineau has ties to several locations across North Dakota and Minnesota. Most prominently, it is associated with the following places:

Bottineau, North Dakota

Bottineau is a small city located in Bottineau County, North Dakota. It had a population of just over 2,200 people as of the 2020 census. The city’s name is derived from the county name, which was established in 1873.

Bottineau County, North Dakota

Bottineau County is located in the north-central part of North Dakota. As of 2020, its population was around 6,500. The county seat is the city of Bottineau. The county’s name honors Pierre Bottineau, a Métis pioneer and guide who lived in the Red River region of North Dakota.

Bottineau Neighborhood, Minneapolis

The Bottineau neighborhood is located in the northwestern part of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is a mostly residential area situated between Theodore Wirth Park and Interstate 94. The neighborhood likely received its name due to its proximity to the town of Bottineau, North Dakota. However, the precise reason is uncertain.

What Does Bottineau Mean?

Despite the usage of Bottineau as a place name, the true meaning and origin of the name are unknown. There are several theories about its potential roots and etymology:

Unknown Meaning

According to Names.org, a website dedicated to name meanings and origins, the meaning of Bottineau is unknown. The site indicates there are no user-submitted meanings or dictionary definitions available. This suggests the name’s background has been lost over time.

French Surname

Given Bottineau’s association with Pierre Bottineau, a Métis of French Canadian and Native American descent, it may have French roots as a surname or family name. However, the meaning of the French name has also been obscured over the centuries.

Native American Origin

Some sources speculate that Bottineau may stem from a Native American language like Ojibwe or Cree. As Pierre Bottineau was part Ojibwe, the name could relate to his Indigenous background and ancestors. But again, the exact origins are unverified.

“Spiritual, Helper, Intuitive”

According to the baby name website NamesLook.com, Bottineau means “spiritual, helper, intuitive.” It suggests the name has a numerology number of 8, which represents balance and a spiritual orientation. However, this appears to be speculation rather than a confirmed meaning.

Other Theories

Some other ideas proposed for the name’s origin include it being a French place name, derived from the word “botte” meaning cask or barrel. Or it may link to the French word “botter” meaning to kick. But these possibilities lack strong evidentiary support.

Who Was Pierre Bottineau?

To better understand the use of Bottineau as a place name, it is helpful to look at the man who inspired its adoption in North Dakota. Pierre Bottineau was a notable figure in the settling of the Red River Valley region:

Early Life

Pierre Bottineau was born in 1814 in Pembina, which was then part of the Red River Colony in present-day North Dakota and Manitoba. His father was of French Canadian background, while his mother was Ojibwe. This gave Bottineau both European and Native American heritage.

Work as Guide and Interpreter

Bottineau worked as a frontier guide and interpreter for many decades. His knowledge of Indigenous languages and familiarity with the terrain enabled him to escort settlers, surveyors, and military expeditions through the Red River region starting from the 1840s.

Surveying and Founding Towns

In the 1860s and 1870s, Bottineau was involved in important land surveys of northwestern North Dakota and eastern Montana. He helped plat several new towns in the area.

According to the State Historical Society of North Dakota, “Bottineau personally directed the founding of Rolla, St. John, Dunseith, Bottineau, and probably Willow City.”

Legacy and Death

Bottineau’s pioneering work made him one of the most celebrated figures of his time in Dakota Territory. The city and county bearing his name memorialized his critical contributions. Bottineau died in 1895 at the age of 81, leaving a lasting impact on the Upper Midwest.

When Were Bottineau, North Dakota Established?

With Pierre Bottineau’s background in mind, the establishment of the Bottineau place names can be traced as follows:

Bottineau County

Bottineau County in North Dakota was formed on March 3, 1873. It predated statehood for North Dakota, which joined the union in 1889. The county was likely named in honor of Pierre Bottineau’s surveying and founding work in the local area in the prior decades.

City of Bottineau

The city of Bottineau was officially incorporated in 1884. It was founded on the railroads that expanded across northern North Dakota in the 1880s, bringing settlers and town developers. As the county seat, Bottineau became the local center of government and commerce.

The book Origins of North Dakota Place Names states that the city was named after Pierre Bottineau, citing his essential role in the area’s history and development.

Bottineau Neighborhood, Minneapolis

The Bottineau neighborhood in Minneapolis is not as precisely documented. But its proximity to the North Dakota town indicates it derived the Bottineau name in a similar timeframe of the late 19th or early 20th century. The neighborhood grew as the city expanded and likely honored the nearby North Dakota city.

Is Bottineau a Popular Name?

While Bottineau is an intriguing name historically, it is not commonly used as a given name today. A look at some key statistics:

U.S. Census Records

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 558 people in the United States have Bottineau as a last name as of the 2010 census. It ranked as the 13,935th most common surname, showing its relative rarity.

Baby Name Popularity

As a baby name, Bottineau is exceedingly unusual. It does not rank at all among U.S. naming trends in recent decades according to the Social Security Administration. In other words, it is given to fewer than 5 babies per year, making it extremely uncommon.

Notable People

There are no widely prominent or famous figures with the first name Bottineau currently or historically. As a rare name, it is primarily associated with Pierre Bottineau and the geographical locations derived from his surname.

Potential Drawbacks

The name’s obscurity, uncertainty of meaning, and connection to a small rural county may limit its appeal. The unfamiliarity and difficult pronunciation could be potential drawbacks for widespread usage as a given name.

However, its ties to history and distinctiveness could interest some parents seeking an original name. But overall, Bottineau remains an extremely uncommon naming choice.


In summary, the name Bottineau stems from fur trader and frontier guide Pierre Bottineau, a significant figure in North Dakota’s early history and settlement. His French Canadian and Ojibwe roots produced the distinctive surname, which later lent itself to locations in his home territory.

However, the original meaning and background of the name Bottineau remain unknown. While several theories exist, there is no definitive evidence pinpointing its linguistic or ethnic origin. This air of mystery has not helped the name gain popularity over time. Bottineau remains an obscure term mostly associated with small localities rather than common usage.

Nonetheless, studying the traces of this name across parts of the Midwest opens an window into the region’s past. Even without a precise definition, Bottineau illustrates the blending of cultures that shaped the history of North Dakota and neighboring states. The pioneering legacy of Pierre Bottineau led to his name memorialized across the Upper Midwest, making the rare Bottineau a noteworthy part of area history and geography

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