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"horse, Indian pony," 1841, American English, said to be a Chinook (native Pacific Northwest) word; also the name of an Indian group and language (1825), of unknown origin.
North American wild or Indian-tamed horse, descended from horses taken to the New World by the Spanish in the 16th century. The name comes from that of an Indian tribe of eastern Washington and Oregon that was known for the small horses it bred.