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Old 06-28-2004, 03:46 PM   #1
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Indian Names: legit or not?

In days gone by, Indigenous peoples of North America were known by tribal names given to them as children. Some tribes allowed a person to earn a new adult name when they were old enough to receive it.

Some tribes still believe they need this Indian name so that the Creator will recognize them when they move to the next world.

In many tribal ceremonies, it is extremely important for a person to have an Indian name before they were allowed to participate in ceremony.

There was important protocol to receiving a name which included a feast and sometimes a giveaway. It is sad that many of the elders who had the right to give names (this right was passed down in some tribes) are no longer with us.

I know that most traditional Indians have Indian names which hold special significance but are not publically spoken. Other times individuals are referred to by family members, both in their tribal language and also the English translation.

It seems to me in modern times, the essence of receiving tribal names through a naming ceremony are not as common as in the past. Yet, I often meet many people, particularly outside of the heavily populated Indian communities, who go by English Indian names such as: Gray Hawk, Shadow Fox, Three Eagles etc., etc., etc., etc. ETCETERA!

Are most of these translated Indian names legitimate? Or do a lot of people assume a name simply because it makes them seem more Indian?
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Old 06-28-2004, 04:05 PM   #2
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I've seen that too... I went to this one powwow, back East, and this White looking lady with a brown buckskin came up to me and told me her name, "Whispering leaves Falling" or something similar. Then she asked me my name and I told her my English name. I wasn't going to tell her my Native name, no way. Anyway, she gave me a real disappointed look cuz I never told her my Indian name. LOL... She wouldn't have understood it anyway cuz it's in our language but I still wasn't going to tell her.
I don't know what she did to have earned and received her name, but she probably didn't have to earn it or "pay" for it like I did. When I got my name, I was little but I remember having a big giveaway and my elder telling everyone about it. Afterwards people would greet me by that name and I would give them a gift of whatever I had. This included my dress, mocs, everything I was wearing. But I had on an extra dress underneath and got to keep that one on

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Old 06-28-2004, 04:27 PM   #3
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A tell tell sign of name illigitimacy is in a person's mad dash to share their name with you. My daughter was given a name before she was born because her personality was obvious even then. Her name was given in Choctaw and very few people use it with her. Our job is to teach her about the name and how to protect it from misuse. My sons once asked why they only have English names and I asked them, "if everyone earned a name at birth for no particular reason, would it mean as much?"
Also in the old days, didn't names change as well? So the next time someone gives shee-shee fru fru Indian name, should you dare asked what it was before? Was "Leaves softly Falling" first "Pigeon drops a lot?"
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Old 06-28-2004, 04:45 PM   #4
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My birthcertificate name is my Navajo name. But I have a nickname I use for nonnavajo speaking people. In our tradition babies are named according to some recent war event. For example, my uncle had just enlisted in the marines, so my name means "going to war to bring peace."

Old tradional ways, you are not suppose to tell strangers your real name. And family and friends called you by your relationship, i.e. daughter, mother, auntie, grandmother. etc. etc. etc.... Non relative would use your clan or age relationship.... Some modern Navajo names are variations of this. For example, Benally, is a variation of bi nali, which means his/her paternal grandfather/grandmother. Begay is a variation of bi ye, which means his son. ANYWAYs.......

We did not give names as a right of passage or earned as an adult. So I think Princess Palemoon is bogus..
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Old 06-28-2004, 04:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homalosa
A tell tell sign of name illigitimacy is in a person's mad dash to share their name with you. My daughter was given a name before she was born because her personality was obvious even then. Her name was given in Choctaw and very few people use it with her. Our job is to teach her about the name and how to protect it from misuse. My sons once asked why they only have English names and I asked them, "if everyone earned a name at birth for no particular reason, would it mean as much?"
Also in the old days, didn't names change as well? So the next time someone gives shee-shee fru fru Indian name, should you dare asked what it was before? Was "Leaves softly Falling" first "Pigeon drops a lot?"

I am in total agreement with you here! Over here on the East Coast, I am just in awe of the names that people introduce themselves as. Me and some friends will be sitting on break and just chillin', and folks will come up to us and introduce themselves as Rainbowflowerchildfromthethirdsun. And of course they ask us our names, and we give them our English name, and they are like no your Indian name, and we give them our English name again. Finally they get some point and move on. It is just interesting to hear what the next name is going to be.
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Old 06-28-2004, 04:55 PM   #6
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LOL....funny post...I run into problems with my name all the time especially with my own tribe.....I 1/2 breed Cali skin....and in tribe way back when there were ndn name but they were in ndn NOT ENGLISH. When the Mission came in the forced baptisims and most all Mission ndns were give Spainsh names. I am from a Family with Sanish surnames. But I married a Lakto man and took his name...(White Horse) . Now when I am with other Cali skins they think it's a hella fake ndn name...cuz here Cali skins have Spansih sur names......lol It funny you can see fullblood Cali skins with no Spanish or Mexican blood and the have names like De Soto, Librado...ect......they really old Spanish surnames from way back....Mission days..
They always say ..WHite Horse did you change your name to more ndn sounding? They think my husbands last name is funny. CAli skin do nto travle much, and are not knowleable about others kins way/names ect...

But for realz that's my dag last name....I almost want to go back to my family name....(but my husband would be heart broke if did). ANd I hate when White Hobbist say oooowww I love your ndn name...."I Am always saying "IT'S NOT MY NDN NAME IT'S MY LAST NAME"!!!! My family ndn names were forced away by the damm Chistains.
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Old 06-28-2004, 05:29 PM   #7
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Talking Names

I know a guy who use to hang out around here (a non-native American shamonic type) and the older ladies use to make fun of him and call him "jump" in our language. (long story) anywho he took this as his "Indian" name, has business cards and all that other jazz. He even tells people that he was named by elders, when in reality they were making fun of him and the way he use to act. Silly man..............
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Old 06-28-2004, 05:36 PM   #8
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I thot "Hopalong" Cassidy was an Indian name.
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Old 06-28-2004, 07:21 PM   #9
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There are some interesting points of view expressed here; but what keeps coming through to me is how obsessed we are with what other people are doing, to the point that we get self righteous about 'our right' to a legitimate name and judging other people without knowing their whole story. Not everyone was rez raised, not everyone was taught that our NDN name is something so personal it is private. I know the wannabee's drive us collectively crazy but I hate to see the generalizations made out there, that anyone eager to share their NDN name is a wannabee. Go take a look at Ben Marra's Pow-wow book. Almost all the dancers featured (some of whom are very prominent today or were fairly recently) share their NDN name and why they were named that. It is the human condition to want to 'belong'. Some people have been estranged and wish to re-connect. Listen, smile...what does it hurt? I don't see it as much different from the Navajo tradition of introducing oneself by naming the family clans we belong to. I know that for some NDNs they hate being asked 'what tribe are you?' They consider it another 'wannabee' action; when in some circles it is the polite thing to do: self-identify. Just my two cents, folks.
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Old 06-28-2004, 07:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2cuteUTE
I know a guy who use to hang out around here (a non-native American shamonic type) and the older ladies use to make fun of him and call him "jump" in our language. (long story) anywho he took this as his "Indian" name, has business cards and all that other jazz. He even tells people that he was named by elders, when in reality they were making fun of him and the way he use to act. Silly man..............
I know another wannabe who did that. Put his so-called "ndn" name on business cards. *rfe*
Another reason why I ain't sharing my ndn names here on the net. It'll be stolen like they steal other aspects of our culture and ways. There is a white woman not far from here who accidently overheard my best friend talking with another lady about her uncles ndn name. This white woman had a grand baby who at the time was to be born in three weeks. When her grandson was born she told everyone around her area that she had a vision that her grandson's name is ________. Man, I wanted to smack her upside her fool head. Another stolen ndn name by a wannabe.
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Old 06-28-2004, 07:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ojibwaysweetie
I know another wannabe who did that. Put his so-called "ndn" name on business cards. *rfe*
Another reason why I ain't sharing my ndn names here on the net. It'll be stolen like they steal other aspects of our culture and ways.
Exactly!! Some people just don't get it and I sure am not going to tell a hobbiest or wannabee my Indian name cuz then they'd be trying to copy it. I see nothing wrong with being protective of what is ours.
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Old 06-28-2004, 11:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kakeeya
Exactly!! Some people just don't get it and I sure am not going to tell a hobbiest or wannabee my Indian name cuz then they'd be trying to copy it. I see nothing wrong with being protective of what is ours.
Exactly. We always agree innit? Why izzat?

Anyways, I do share my name with friends, relatives and those I can trust.
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Old 06-29-2004, 03:47 AM   #13
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I nearly got named Snowbird by mom cause I was born in early January and it was snowing big time.... but Dad got to name me and now I'm not sure which name would have been worse..but definitly snowbird would have gotten me some funny looks eh? Still none of us got "normal" sounding names so in turn I had to do the same to my kid... LOL... As for indian names, I don't have mine yet. One day when I've moved home then I will get my name.
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Old 06-29-2004, 09:19 AM   #14
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Well, I gave my daughter her name at birth. I looked into her eyes when she was first born and I knew what her ndn name was to be.

As for me, I was at our p/w one year walking with a friend of mine, when this woman came up to us and asked if she could take our picture. We said yes and then she asked us our names so, we told her. Then she looked puzzled and said "no, your ndn names". So, my friend told her his and then she asked me for mine. I told her that I did not have one. It looked like it upset her alot and she just walked away.

I share my ndn name when I feel like not when I'm pressured too. Especially, when it comes to the wannabe tribe. They try to pressure you into telling them your name. I just use my English name and keep on going. However, I think that the next time they try to pressure me, I'm going to tell them that my name is Man with big butt who farts alot.
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Old 06-29-2004, 10:09 AM   #15
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Anyways, I do share my name with friends, relatives and those I can trust.
Me too.
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Old 06-29-2004, 12:18 PM   #16
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What else is weird is that since my screen name is from my language people online think it's my Indian name. I guess in a way it could be because it represents my regalia colors and my dual heritage (homa=red, losa=black), but I gave myself that name. I wouldn't feel right claiming it as an Indian name.
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Old 06-29-2004, 01:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ojibwaysweetie
I know another wannabe who did that. Put his so-called "ndn" name on business cards. *rfe*
Another reason why I ain't sharing my ndn names here on the net. It'll be stolen like they steal other aspects of our culture and ways. There is a white woman not far from here who accidently overheard my best friend talking with another lady about her uncles ndn name. This white woman had a grand baby who at the time was to be born in three weeks. When her grandson was born she told everyone around her area that she had a vision that her grandson's name is ________. Man, I wanted to smack her upside her fool head. Another stolen ndn name by a wannabe.

I know people always be tryin to steal names. Just so they can have a "NDN" name without any meaning.
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Old 06-29-2004, 04:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Potawatomi_Azhe'ni
I know people always be tryin to steal names. Just so they can have a "NDN" name without any meaning.
__


What about last names? I know plenty of Indian people who's ancestors registered on some role or another and were "given" or assigned a deluted version of their Indian names. Sometimes these last names that were assigned to our ancestors have caused today's Indian children to be made fun of, when they attend mainstream public schools - because non Indian children do not understand the beauty and significance of Indian last names.

Our ancestors in different parts of the North American were also given or assigned first names for a last name such as George, Carl, Michael, John, Jim, Sam, etc. etc. Others were given last names of English, French and Spanish origin such as McKay, Ballenger and Ortiz.

Can anybody relate?
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Last edited by WhoMe; 06-29-2004 at 04:48 PM..
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Old 06-29-2004, 04:47 PM   #19
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Yeah my dad's family name was changed by the indian agent - it went from being an Ojibway name to being one out of the bible. Some of our family members have gone back to using the original.
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Old 06-29-2004, 05:28 PM   #20
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Well, first off - I'm a newbie here...yes, I'm a rookie :)

Secondly, I am very humble in saying that my gGranma was 1/8 Cherokee & it is believed there is another Cherokee or two in my maternal AND paternal lineage. Again, I am humble and proud.

Thirdly, there are wannabe's everywhere. My background is in law enforcement (13 years) and to cops, security guards, scanner chasers & a few common citizens were "wannabe's". However, I was glad some of them didn't have a badge and gun! :)
I don't skip around like an idiot, talking about raindances or saying "how" to everyone.

I AM however, learning Sequoyah, am making (with a Cherokee friend's tons of help) a Tear Dress. I also have a medicine pouch which I wear on occassion (sometimes visible, sometimes under my shirt) that a Cherokee friend made for me as a *gift*.
These are important to me...my "connection reminders" for lack of better description. Yes....on the rare occassion someone asks, I tell them - quietly, but with a tone of pride.

Fourth - my (now) dilemma:
My Cherokee cousin "gave" me a name: Sunsierae. She asked about my maternal grandmother first & I explained that Granma Ruby passed away when I was only 8 mos old. (Although, many times I feel her close to me).
She asked about my birth & decided Sunsierae, meaning "soft sound at winter's noon" would be it.
I've recently lost contact w/her, btw...and I hate that.

I use Sunsierae as my screenname a lot & had often thought about incorporating it in my daily life. We are about to move to another town (a time for us to start afresh) & I'd considered using Sunsierae as my identification in our new life.

However, after reading all the posts, I realize it is a "secret" & not sure it'd be the thing to do.

I didn't know any of this. My deep desire to incorporate my native american (cherokee) heritage & pass it down (since NOONE passed anything down to me & I feel heritage is VERY important & something to be proud of).

I do feel in agreement with what Washaki Witch posted.

Any helpful suggestions are appreciated & thank you for this board.

Wado.
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