American Indian Baby Names

People choose baby names in many different ways. Some prefer names with a tradition, some for a particular meaning. For those with a Native American heritage, it could be both. Many American Indian baby names have very distinct and beautiful meanings, albeit many are confused and inaccurate, according to the more authentic Native American organizations. The advice given by these sites is that it is best to consult an elder of a nearby tribal community when choosing a name for your child. There are some names, for instance, that are inappropriate, such as names of tribes which have become popular, Cheyenne, for instance, or Dakota. Native Americans find this trend offensive, and many times the meaning is completely out of context and makes no sense at all when applied to an individual.

It is interesting some Native Americans were given their names at birth, but often that name would change when the child reaches puberty, or again at adulthood. This is not a custom that is followed in our culture, but sometimes a person wishes to obtain a "spiritual" name. However, no legitimate Native American tribesman will consent to giving an individual a spiritual name without first meeting him. This would not be something to do lightly, and not something to do through correspondence or over the internet.

Many people, though, do wish to find an American Indian baby name to fit a particular meaning, and there are internet sites that can offer suggestions. The following are a list of some possible male Indian names and their meaning:

Achai - brother

Agwe - water

Amaro - strong

Capac - splendid, glorious

Chogan - black bird

Denali - the great one

Galegina - stag

Hache-hi - wolf

Hanska - one who is tall

Huritt - good

Huslu - shaggy bear

Koda - the allies

Orenda - supernatural powers

Taho - edge of the lake

Tama - jewel

Tecumseh - goes from one place to another

And also, then, following is a list of female Native American names and their meaning:

Adoette - strong as a tree

Awendela - fresh morning

Chenoa - pure dove

Cholena - that which soars

Dena - low-lying meadow

Hateya - footprint in the sand

Isatas - snow

Kimana - butterfly

Lomasi - beautiful blossom

Mahala - feminine power

Meda - prophet or priestess

Mika - raccoon with wise heart

Nata - voice of creation

Olathe - lovely

Onida - eagerly awaited

Rozene - rose blossom

Sisika - singing bird

Suni - native one

Talula - water sprays to sky

Winona - first born daughter

Wyanet - one whose beauty is legend

Many people tend to confuse or misinterpret Native American names. They give them literal interpretations, though they may mean something completely different, or they may mean something in a different way. One example given is that "Big Mouth" is actually a "good tribal speaker," though most people would interpret the name negatively. Many English names would interpret this same way, as "Kennedy" means "big head" for instance, so, to a Native American, any person named Kennedy may have been given that name for the size of his, or her, head.

A good way to choose an American Indian baby name would be to choose a variant of an English name, such as Kateri for Catherine, or Atian for Stephen. Many Christian names have Native American names, just as many Christian names have Spanish variants. Or, one could choose a Native American word and make a name from that word. This has actually been done of the tribal names, as American Indians did not use those for names of their children.

One thing can certainly be said, choosing a name for a baby is certainly not a quick decision, and it should be researched thoroughly before deciding. And, if the name is to have a spiritual meaning to it, or a meaning deep-rooted in Native American heritage, it is even more important. A name was no small thing to the Native American people, and the best route is to seek advice from a tribal elder or from an organization that believes in the sacredness of the name.





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