Wednesday, May 18, 2016
AMERICAN INDIAN NAMES AND THEIR MEANINGS by CHERYL PIERSON
Anyone who knows me knows how crazy I am about name collecting. I’ve done it ever since I was a little girl—probably because my own name has such an odd pronunciation. Bear with me if you’ve read this before—it won’t take long. My parents named me Cheryl—but not pronounced SHARE-yl like most people would say. No, my name is pronounced CHAIR-yl. But wait, there’s more! As if that wasn’t bad enough—my dad had the bright idea to use “Kathlyn” for my middle name—not Kathryn or Kathleen—but his own combo. I think he did it on purpose so he could roll the entire thing off his tongue when he got perturbed with me.
Is it any wonder that I named my daughter Jessica and my son Casey? Though that proved to me nothing is fool-proof—Jessica was on a little league softball team with 8 other Jessicas, and Casey had 2 girls in his kindergarten class named Casey. The thing that saved the day was that there was also a girl named Michael—so he didn’t have to listen to “Casey’s a girl’s name”—since it really hadn’t been until the year he was born, evidently.
(CASEY AND JESSICA AT THE LAKE--THEY GREW UP AND DID OKAY!)
I wanted to talk a bit about Indian names we are all familiar with and what the meanings are—I thought that might be fun. Though no one really knows what their children will grow up to be, many of us choose names that have “meaning” behind them. My dad’s name was Frederic—which meant “Peaceful Ruler”—we had great fun with that over the years. Mom’s name was El Wanda—which she always told us meant “The One”—and my dad would say, “Well, THAT’S the truth! You’re THE ONE for me!”
(MY MOM AND DAD NEWLY MARRIED AND READY TO TAKE ON THE WORLD)
But what about some of the famous leaders in history who were Indian?
GOYATHLAY m Native American, Apache
Means "one who yawns" in Apache. This was the real name of the Apache chief Geronimo, who fought against Mexican and American expansion into his territory.
(GERONIMO IN HIS YOUNGER DAYS)
HIAWATHA m History, Native American, Iroquois
From the Iroquoian name Haio-went-ha meaning "he who combs". This was the name of a 16th-century Mohawk leader who founded the Iroquois Confederacy. He was later the subject of a fictionalized 1855 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
NANOOK m Native American, Inuit
Variant of NANUQ. This was the (fictional) name of the subject of Robert Flaherty's documentary film 'Nanook of the North' (1922).
POCAHONTAS f History, Native American, Algonquin
Means "she is playful" in Algonquin. This was the name of a young Algonquin woman, daughter of a powerful chief, who married a white colonist.
QUANAH m Native American, Comanche
Means "fragrant" in the Comanche language. This was the name of a 19th-century chief of the Comanche.
(IN THIS PICTURE, GERONIMO IS ON THE LEFT SIDE AND QUANAH PARKER ON THE RIGHT)
SACAGAWEA f Native American
Probably from Hidatsa tsakáka wía meaning "bird woman". Alternatively it could originate from the Shoshone language and mean "boat puller". This name was borne by a Native American woman who guided the explorers Lewis and Clark. She was of Shoshone ancestry but had been abducted in her youth and raised by a Hidatsa tribe.
TECUMSEH m Native American, Shawnee
Means "panther passing across" in Shawnee. This was the name of a Shawnee leader who, with his brother Tenskwatawa, resisted European expansion in the early 19th century.
WINONA f English, Native American, Sioux
Means "firstborn daughter" in the Dakota language. This was the name of the daughter of the Sioux Dakota chief Wapasha III.
These are just a few of the names and meanings that I found at this site. You might find it interesting to check out the others!
I'm curious--is there something odd about YOUR name? Do you wish you had a different one, or are you perfectly satisfied with the one your parents gave you?