AMERICAN INDIAN NAMES AND THEIR MEANINGS–by CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl2041Anyone 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.

MOM AND DADScans 009I 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!”

 

 

But what about some of the famous leaders in history who were Indian?

 

Geronimo headressimagesGOYATHLAY   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. Here’s a picture of Geronimo in his later years.

 

 

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.

Geronimo and Quanah P.487890_712263182344_2084825221_nQUANAH   m   Native American, Comanche Means “fragrant” in the Comanche language. This was the name of a 19th-century chief of the Comanche. This is a picture of Geronimo (left) and Comanche chief, Quanah Parker (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.

 

 

TecumsehTECUMSEH   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!

http://www.behindthename.com/names/usage/native-American

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?

The hero of my latest novella, Johnny Rainbolt, is half Cherokee. He needs a wife–and Gabrielle Mason needs a husband–quick!

I’m giving away a DIGITAL COPY of THESE ROUGH DREAMS to one lucky commenter! Take a sneak peek!

PRPThese Rough Dreams Cheryl WebWhen Southern socialite Gabrielle Mason discovers she’s pregnant, she takes her future into her own hands. She has her family name to consider, and a husband is what she needs. She answers an ad for a mail-order bride in Indian Territory. But the man who proposes isn’t the man she ends up marrying.

Johnny Rainbolt is not a family man by any stretch of the imagination…but Fate is about to give him no choice. His late sister’s three children will be arriving on the next stage, and he has no idea what to do with them. When cultured Gabby Mason is left waiting for her prospective groom at the stage station, Johnny sees a way to solve everyone’s problems.

Some dreams get off to a rough start. A mail-order marriage is only the beginning. When one of the children is stolen, Johnny and Gabby are forced to depend on one another in an unimaginable circumstance that could turn tragic… or show them what might become of THESE ROUGH DREAMS.

If you just can’t wait to see if you’re my winner, here’s the Amazon link–it’s also available at Barnes & Noble!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B011VHEQ8M

 

Cheryl Pierson
A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 37 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules

48 Comments

  1. I am not fond of my name but it is mine. No special meaning!

    1. Debra, I think it’s interesting that there are far more people who are unsatisfied with their names than those that ARE. My husband’s name is Gary, and he is perfectly content with it–he had neighbors and relatives that had some truly awful names, so he felt pretty lucky.

    2. When my daughter visited Hong Kong while taking a break from her job in Japan she thought it would be fun to get a chop for each of us (a carved stamp with our first name). When it came to my name the gentleman who was had making them told my daughter that my name had no meaning and he couldn’t make one. My daughter was upset so he decided to do it phonically. Each chop had our Chinese astrological animal as the grip.

      1. WOW. I’ve never heard of someone’s name not having a meaning, Whitney! Maybe he just didn’t know it, or hadn’t heard it before. That sounds like a very cool gift! I googled it and here’s what google had to say: The name Whitney is an Anglo-Saxon baby name. In Anglo-Saxon the meaning of the name Whitney is: From the white island. American Meaning: The name Whitney is an American baby name. In American the meaning of the name Whitney is: From the white island.

  2. I didn’t know your middle name was Kathlyn. That’s too close for comfort. 😉

    I knew the meanings behind some of these names, but not the others. Thanks for the education!

    I’ve always been somewhat concerned about Goyathlay’s name. In the Chiricahua tradition, children were given a name at birth but warriors could choose their own name (or have one gifted to them by an elder) once they had proven themselves in battle. If Goyathlay followed the tradition, one has to wonder why he chose to call himself “One Who Yawns.”

    I loved THESE ROUGH DREAMS. The hero and heroine may have gotten off to an inauspicious start, but boy did they make up for lost time! 😀

    1. Kathleen, yes, I am an “almost” Kathleen! LOL I thought they same thing about “One Who Yawns”–I definitely would have chosen another name! LOL

      I loved These Rough Dreams, too–they really had to make some tough decisions–both as a mail-order bride and a single man who is soon to be saddled with a family he doesn’t know what to do with. Thanks for stopping by, Kathleen!

    2. Do you choose your name or does your name choose you? Goyathlay might have earned his name by yawning at people who tried to intimidate him.

      My youngest son was either going to be Sam or Seames/Shamus. As soon as he was born, he was a Sam. It’s just as well too because his father and I were arguing over the spelling, me wanting to go with the Irish Seames or Seamus, an himself wanting to go phonetic.

      Which reminds me. I recently found out that the Irish spelling of Kathleen is Caitlin.

      1. Good point, Alison! Which is it? LOL When I was pregnant with my son, Casey, we knew if he was a girl he would be Caitlin. At least we AGREED on that! LOL

  3. I was named after an old girlfriend of my father’s – Connie. My middle name is what mom told dad her name was for weeks when they were first dating – Marie. How they ever agreed to Connie Marie is still a mystery. Had I been a boy, I would have been named Paris. Dodged the bullet on that one. *haha* Good article, Cheryl. Oh, and I always pronounce your name wrong in my head, I only just learned this. Sorry about that.

    1. Now, Connie, I think that is terrific of your mom to go along with naming you after one of your dad’s old girlfriends! But you know–just because a person you once dated happened to have had a name you really liked is no reason not to use it–I just don’t know if I could have gone along with that. Well, one of my husband’s exes I really liked a lot–I probably could have done that with her name. LOL

      And I forgot to mention–had I been a boy, I would have been Stewart (a family name) so you and I BOTH dodged a bullet on that “boy” thing.

      No wonder you pronounce my name wrong in your head! Everyone does until they know me. LOL

    2. That is weird. I can understand using Marie, but naming your child after an ex is a bit odd.

      One name my sister and I would never be called was Mary. Several of my father’s old girlfriends had that name and I now wonder if he did this on purpose so he wouldn’t have to keep them straight.

  4. Well Dawn means,morning but am nite person and middle name Iverne inherited from mom..but came from a lady who my grandma had heard growing up, her dad Ivan had died while her mom pregnant with her and mom wanted to name child after dad so Iverne since it was a girl…love meaning of names.

    1. Dawn, that is so interesting! In my family, my two older sisters got our grandmothers names. Both my grandmothers were named Mary–one was Mare Elizabeth and one Mary Alma. So my oldest sister was named Mary Annette, but everyone called her Annette. My middle sister was named Karen Elizabeth, but everyone called her Karen. LOL I am like you–I love the meaning of names!

  5. Kim is NOT short for kimberly which alot of people mistake when they ask my name. My father who served in the korean war decided he liked the name. Don’t know in asia what the meaning of the name is though.

    1. Kim, I have a cousin named Kimberlee–and everyone called her Kim from the day she was born. I also have a cousin named Billy Tim–and that’s his name–not William Timothy. I don’t know the meaning of Kim, either–it would be interesting to find out.
      Cheryl

    2. I just looked it up. Kim is the most common family name in Korea. It means gold. The English name Kim was invented by Rudyard Kipling and predates Kimberly. It’s from Kimbold, meaning bold.

      My son’s name is Sam, not Samuel. That’s what’s on his birth certificate. It used to drive him crazy when teachers didn’t believe him. I had to write a note for him assuring them that this was true.

  6. As a child I didn’t like my name. Add to that people never got it right; Diane, Deeann, and everything in between. By the time I was in my 20’s I learned Diana was a goddess and that suited me just fine. Then, along came Princess Diana and I had a cool name. A co-worker kept getting my name wrong until someone said “just like Princess Di!” From then on he called me Princess, to the point customers asked for me by that name. My mom always called me Di, which truly suits me best.

    1. That is one very cool story, Di! I would love to be known as PRINCESS! LOL My oldest sister used to call me “Cherry-belle” when I was little.
      Cheryl

        1. Hi Alison! I loved it too–made me feel special. It was my BIG SISTER’S NAME for ME!

  7. I like my name pretty well. One meaning for Cheryl/Cherie is “dear one.” I have no problem with being “dear.” 🙂

    I was inspired by your article to look up the meaning of the name Minnehaha which is the county I was born in. This is what I found: A county in South Dakota. The county was created in 1862 and organized in 1868. It received its name from the Sioux Indian word “Mnihaha”, which is often incorrectly translated as “laughing water,” but in reality it translates into “rapid water,” or “waterfall.”

    1. By the way, do you pronounce your name with the “ch” or “sh” sound? Mine is pronounced with the “sh.” It really should have been spelled Sheryl.

      1. It’s the CH sound. Like CHAIR.

        1. Yes, I would have known this already if I had read your post more carefully!!!

        2. Haha! I would have known this if I had read your post more carefully!

    2. Hey Cheryl! I have no problem being dear, either.LOL And I also have a niece named Cherie. There are so many interesting names out there–and I love learning about their meanings!

  8. I never really cared for my name that much but it is what I was stuck with. I am not real sure what it means and have never looked it up.

    1. My sister used to tell me to call myself “Kathy” — but how can you do that in a small town where everyone has grown up calling you by your first name forever? LOL She was just trying to help–but that would have been impossible.
      Cheryl

  9. When I was younger I did not like my name… I liked when my uncle called me Denise as in “the niece”. 🙂 LOL… But as I grew up, I began to love my name… I am amazed how different people pronounce it and spell it.

    1. Colleen, when I was little I used to beg my mother to call me Colleen or Greta. LOL She’d go along with it for a while, but then by the time she started calling me Cheryl again, I was glad to have my “real” name back.
      Cheryl

  10. CHAIR-yl,what an awesome post! I love learning about the Native Americans. This is a link to bookmark, for sure. I have always hated my name. When I was growing up, nobody was named Tanya, and it was always mispronounced (like CAN ya?, it is TAWN-yah) and misspelled…most notably the marquis at the hotel the day I was married: Tonja. Go figure that one. The only other Tanyas I knew were my aunt (whom I was named for) and her daughter, my cousin of the same age. So…all through childhood we had to be called Tanya Roi and Tanya Ruth to differentiate. Gag me. Add to that a super-foreign surname name with impossible spelling. I sooo longed for something simple. Linda Smith, maybe. Sheesh. Thanks for the great info today.

  11. Oh, Tanya! That would be so hard. I knew a girl one time whose grandmother was named Winnie. She and her cousin were born on the same day, and the parents named both the girls Winnie. They had to use their middle names along with Winnie to differentiate, too. That would be really tough!

  12. Hi Cheryl! As a “Kathy” growing up it seemed like every classroom I was in had at least 4-5 Kathys. I was happy to change it to “Kathryn” (which is my real name anyway) when I made the big move to the Midwest. I actually was supposed to be “Leslie” but thats another story LOL!

    1. I have always loved the name Leslie. And I’ve had male and female friends in the past that were both named Leslie. My great grandmother’s name on my dad’s side was named Katherine–and I’m surprised, looking back, that they didn’t name me that instead of Kathlyn for a middle name. Kathryn is a beautiful name. You lucked out!

  13. LOL…our daughter Christine was always called Christy…until first grade when there were two others. So the teacher convinced her to go back to Christine. Our Matt..well, there were four Matts in his small high school class. Sheesh. But at least I gave them normal names! xo

    1. Tanya, my niece’s middle name is Christine. I have always loved that name! You done good, girl!

  14. I loved reading all the names. When I was a Camp Fire Girl leader we study a lot of the different myths and took different names. Mine was To To Pakwa which means Green Frog. We all had so much fun learning all the local Native American traditions.

    1. Oh Paisley, I loved doing that in Girl Scouts when I was a troop leader! I wish I had stayed with that with the girls in our troop through the years, but anymore there is so much out there that they start dropping out along about 4th grade or so–which I think was when I stopped being a leader. But it was fun while it lasted!

  15. As a child I once told someone that No my name was not Constance, that I hated that name. She then told me that Constance was her name. My mother scolded me for days for being so impolite.

    My brother was never fond of his name. He was Tommie. Yes that was his given name. When my parents ran down the list of names it was Connie, Tommie, Barbie, Rickie, Jackie and Mary. My Mother ran down that list of names often when one of us was in trouble.

    My youngest sister’s name is one I am very fond of. My parents’ names were Mel and Elaine. My sister was named Melanie Layne.

    1. Oh, I love that name, too, Connie–a blending of your mom and dad’s names–Melanie Layne! Lovely. Well, shoot. How were you to know that other person’s name was Constance? LOL My mom ran down the list too, Annette, Karen, Cheryl…which I thought was pretty funny since I was born when Annette was 12 and Karen was 10! They were both gone from the house by the time I was 8.

  16. Alison is literally son of Alice. Alice is a Germanic name meaning noble. For the longest time I thought it meant truth because I misheard the lyrics of the Elvis Costello song “Oh, Alison, my aim is true” as “Alison thy name is truth.” Honestly.

    Alison is also used as the anglicized version of the Irish Aislinn. Aislinn means dreamer. That fits me better than noble or truth.

    1. LOL That is funny about misunderstanding song lyrics. One time my sister asked me about the Garth Brooks song SHAMELESS: “I don’t get this song.” I said, “Why?” She goes “How dumb it is to sing a song about SHAVING?” LOLLOL I still laugh about that to this day.

  17. Thanks for an interesting post, Cheryl.

    1. You’re welcome, Pat! Thanks for stopping by!

  18. Thank you for this post. It was very interesting. I knew a couple of those, but not all. Your book looks like a great read.

    1. Hi Susan! Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m sorry I’d already drawn the winners by the time you commented, but I usually do giveaways when I blog so maybe next time. These Rough Dreams is not very long–just a little novella–so it’s only .99.
      Cheryl

  19. I grew up surrounded by Terrys and Lindas and Debbies, so being named Sally and listening to endless rounds of Little Sally Saucer (and then later Mustang Sally) wasn’t my favorite thing. When I would complain my mother would tell me that my name meant Princess. I’m sure that wasn’t her reason for naming me and certainly not how I turned out! Now, though, I am okay that it’s unique. I’ve only ever met 3 or 4 other Sallys. Funny enough, my best friend had 3 of us at her wedding: me, another friend, and her future sister-in-law. As a parent I guess I forgot all that, because I still went ahead and gave my children names they told me were weird – Ted who is forever Teddy Bear and Michele-with-one-l (like the Beatles song), constantly had to be correcting the spelling. (Laurie had no complaints!)

    I like the storyline in These Rough Dreams. How brave those mail order brides had to be. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    1. Sally, I don’t remember any of my friends liking their names when we were growing up. My kids were dissatisfied with their names, as well.

      I have so often wondered how some of these women who were mail order brides found it in them to be able to leave and ride of into the unknown. I wonder how many started to go and turned around at the very last minute?

      Thanks for coming by and commenting.

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