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How did the town of Punxsutawney get its name?

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The town of Punxsutawney owes its name to its first inhabitants, the Delaware Indians, who supposedly called the area, Ponksaduteney, which is translated in English as "Town of the Sandflies." The town originated as a Native American campsite between the Allegheny and Susquehanna rivers, along the Shamokin path.

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The town originated as a Native American campsite between the Allegheny and Susquehanna rivers, along the Shamokin path. Delaware Indians settled the area, which had previously been a border between different tribes, in 1723 after being pressured to move west by white settlers and hostile Iroquois. The largest migrations occurred between the years 1740 and 1760.

Around this time, according to legend, a Native American sorcerer assaulted unfortunate travelers until he was hunted down and killed by a young chief. When the body was burned in order to eliminate the evil magic or "bad medicine," it miraculously transformed into a swarm of sandflies or "ponksad." These sandflies were ubiquitous across the area and so inspired the name, punksutawney from the word "ponksad" for sandfly and the word "utènay" for town.

The town of Punxsutawney earns it renown from a legend which states that if on the 2nd of February, a groundhog (nicknamed "Punxsutawney Phil") emerges from its den and witnesses its own shadow, it will return to its hole, foretelling another six weeks of winter.

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