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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: Name origins
In Response To: Re: Name origins ()

Who, lil ol non-confrontational moi?? LOL.

Don't all of us try and categorize whatever is new, in a way that fits our own experiences? To me, I personally lean toward the visual comparison-and use as a term of respect/honor could be modified depending on the tribe. Interpretations and definitions are funny things, and they morph over time. Because I have spent the majority of my life on reservations-mainly the Navajo, I am afraid my views are skewed by those many years out of "main stream" America (oar or no oar). And I think of translations for various words in Navajo, in Ojibwe, in Sioux and other languages. Virtually always a new experience/item was given a word/description that fit the known norm. Example-Navajos had experience with Mexicans before Anglos and Blacks. The work for Mexican is "Nakai", the word for African-Americans is "Nakai'Tl'zhini" or "Nakai' Tl'zhinigi" or Black Mexican. Anglos on the other hand, are "Beligana" -one who should be killed. The general term probably didn't come into use till the time of the Kit Carson raids. Window Rock-the tribal capital, "Tse Ho'dzani"-is in reality, rock with a hole in it. Car parts are related to body parts-the engine is the car's heart,axles are car's legs, tires are car shoes, etc.

About the buffalo as part of a non-respectful term/name. Don't have a problem with that either. But I also think most of those are of more modern origin-after major contact with the outside world. "Indin" humor can be very black-who else would take the penultimate "rez ride", held together with "Fry Bread Power" bumper stickers, duct tape, baling wire and an eagle feather from the rearview mirror and dedicate songs to it? Jokes definitely lean to the scatalogical-and Navajo is especially rich in puns. You simply can't translate a good Navajo joke into English without losing most of it.

Common names (as separated from secret/medicine/or war names-which are known only by VERY few, and used only in specific instances.) most often refer to physical/social attributes, and to the outsider can be pretty demeaning. I have known people (various tribes) whose names translated into "stinky breath", "farts continuously", "greasy face"-a reference to being greedy and taking the best meat parts, "fuzzy"-for flyaway hair, and similar names for those who are very tall, short, skinny, fat, etc. I have noticed a real difference in the type of common use names for people who have never gone to school-and those who have been exposed to boarding schools, the military, and the outside world in general.

Whew, one more thing-those names are virtually never spoken directly to the person involved in conversation. They would be used in conversation with other people, and most folks would wind up with more than one "nickname". Direct conversation, if any terms are used, would usually be ones in reference to clan relationships, age, deference. But, as we all know, things are continually changing-and those relationship terms are becoming less prevalent with younger people, who often have less contact with the language and customs.

By the way, I agree with you on "Letters"-to me it is written in a similar style to a lot of the articles of the late 1870's-90's in magazines like "Out West"-that printed things in letter or diary format.

Sharon


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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