It's Meaning

While there is no difinitive source for the true original meaning of the word Kemosabe, (pronounced-Ke-mo sah bee), some have alleged its origins to be derived from the dialect of the Tewa Indians of northern New Mexico (Kema=Friend; Sabe=Apache), or of the Yavapai-Apache nation of Arizona (“Kinmasba”), while others believe it to have originated from the dialect of the Ojibwe tribe of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan for their meaning of the word, scout, “Giimoozaabiz”.

Perhaps the greatest notoriety of the word “Kemosabe” came as a result of famed radio writer Fran Striker’s 1932 introduction of the Lone Ranger on Detroit’s WXYZ radio and its eventual success as a popular television series. The word “Kemosabe” was first introduced to the audience in one of the early episodes, when following a gun fight involving six Texas Rangers with the Caverdish Gang, Tonto, a native American Indian scout, comes upon the only surviving, unconscious, mortally wounded, ranger. Upon recognizing the ranger as his childhood friend who saved his life, Tonto cares for the ranger. Four days later the ranger regains consciousness, opens his eyes and they greet each other with the term, “Kemosabe” (faithful friend). It has been suggested that the radio programs dramatic director, Jim Jewell, a Michigan native, coined this term after the name of his father-in-laws Northern Michigan children’s camp named “Ke Mo Sah Bee”, which translates to, “Trusty Friend”.


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