American Indian Names
American Indian names similar to our customs of giving nicknames. Nicknames provide insight not only into the individual but also into how other people think of them. American Indian children received names that are descriptive based on some incident. They may be given new names at adolescence and again as they go through life according to their life experiences and accomplishments. Society bestows a new name–a new name is earned. In other words, names can change as the individual changes. Among warrior tribes many names are given to a man for deeds of bravery in warfare.
Sometimes the name is lost in the translation. For example there was a great Oglala Lakota warrior named Young Man Afraid of His Horses. What the name really meant he was such a great warrior his enemies “Even Fear His Horses.” Another Lakota Chief, Rain in the Face has two versions, regarding the translation of his name. The first is when he was a young man, he was battling with some Gros Ventres in a driving rousing rainstorm and at the end of the lengthy combat his face was streaked with war paint. The other is “His Face is Like a Storm.”Geronimo’s birth name was Goyahklaor “One Who Yawns.” He was a Bedonkohe Chiricahua Apache. The source of his name, Geronimo is disputed. Some historians believe its origins are the cries of frightened Mexican soldiers calling out the name of the Catholic St. Jerome when they faced Geronimo in battle. Others believe it is simply a mispronunciation of“Goyahkla.”