....Yocona is a derivation of Chickasaw yaakni', "land." This stream's present-day designation is shortened from the original name, which has various transliterations, including Cushman's (1999, p. 492) "Yoconapatawfa" and "Yak-ni-pa-tuf-fih," and, on 1830s maps, "Yocony Patawfa" (Gutting 1992, p. 29) and "Yoknepatawpha" (Seale 1939, p. 212). The most familiar variant of the river's full original appellation, however, is that used by novelist William Faulkner, for his mythical Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. According to Faulkner, Yoknapatawpha is Chickasaw for "water runs slow through flat land" (Gwynn and Blotner 1965, p. 74), but this is mostly fanciful; the Chickasaw equivalents of the English words of Faulkner's purported translation (with the exception of yaakni', "land") do not resemble the phonetic elements of the name. (Another mistaken belief, as noted by Doyle [2001, p. 387], is the local notion that Yoknapatawpha means "water passing through the air.")
The second element of the full original name is usually identified as Choctaw patafa, "split open; plowed; furrowed; tilled" (cf. Cushman 1999, p. 492; Seale 1939, p. 212). However, as indicated above, the stream runs mostly through historically Chickasaw territory, and Chickasaw patafa in recent translation is defined only as "to be ripped; to be cut open," while the phonetically dissimilar Chickasaw words liichi and laa are respectively defined as "to plow" and "to be plowed" (Munro and Willmond 1994, pp. 299, 481). But, in view of the fact that patafa occurs in both Choctaw and Chickasaw, and that the word in both tongues has recorded translations including the similar verb roots "to split," "to rip" and "to cut," it is likely that Chickasaw patafa historically shared with Choctaw the meanings "plowed," "furrowed," and "tilled," as well. Hence, Yoknapatawpha (in Chickasaw orthography Yaakni' Patafa), the full original name of the Yocona River, means "plowed land" or "plowed ground" (cf. Dyson 2003, p. 105).
Keith A. Baca, Native American Place Names in Mississippi,
University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, Mississippi, 2007, pages 134-135