Quotations from Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origins and Historic Significances, written by Warren Upham and published by the Minnesota Historical Society, read:

"The name of Rum river, which Carver in 1766 and Pike in 1805 found in use by English-speaking fur traders, was indirectly derived from the Sioux. Their name of Mille Lacs, Mde Wakan, translated Spirit lake, was given to its river, but was changed by the white man to the most common spirituous liquor brought into the Northwest, rum, which brought misery and ruin, as Du Luth observed of brandy, to many of the Indians."

"Wakan island, noted on a following page for the present village of Wahkon, was the source of the name Mde Wakan, to the lake and to this great subtribe of the Siouan people, and was accountable, by a punning translation, for the Rum river, the outlet of this lake....." and Spirit island...Wonderful as this island is, it was the origin of the Sioux name of the lake, of this village, and, by a punning perversion noted on a later page, the name of Rum river."

"Nicollet's map, published in 1843, has Iskode Wabo or Rum R., this name given by the Ojibways, but derived by them from the white men's perversion of the ancient Sioux name Wakan, being in more exact translation "Fire Water".

When referring Anoka, Minnesota's name Upham wrote: It was said to mean 'on both sides,' when rendered into less musical English; and to this day the name is by no means inappropriate, as the town is growing up and extending on either side of the beautiful but badly named river."