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Article: The Significance of Daíoþa/Naíoþa/Laíoþa Names

Traditonally, our people did not have surnames or family names. Each individual had his or her own name. Daíoþa/Naíoþa/Laíoþa people could have any of six classes of names: birth order names, honour or public names, special deed names, nicknames, secret names and spirit names. An individual could have several names in their lifetime.

The first class of names, the birth order names, were given to children based on their sex and the position they held within the family. The Ihañkoñwañ version of the names are as follows:

Birth Order
1st born
2nd born
3rd born
4th born
5th born
last born

Traditionally, our did not speak a person's honour or public name in their presence. Instead, in everyday interaction, people are referred to by the appropriate kinship terms or words, which identify relationships such as brother, sister, cousin and so on. Therefore, members of a child's immediate family, would call a child by his or her birth order name in their daily interaction. Some individuals were never given honour or public names.

Kinship terms: brother, sister, cousin, uncle, aunt and so on, were also used when addressing people who were not related. Today, this remains a common practice. Daíoþa/Naíoþa/Laíoþa children call many people Grandpa and Grandma or aunt and uncle as a demonstration of respect. This practice becomes very confusing to non-Indians who do not practice this custom.

The nickname usually records some humorous act the individual has done or an odd characteristic of the person. At times, the nickname was used in day -to day interaction. For some, the nickname was so representative of the individual, that in time, it was the only name used in referring to that person. For example, it is said that when Chief Sitting Bull was a boy, his name was "Jumping Badger", but the people nicknamed him "slow", because he always took an extra amount of time to do things.

Fathers often asked a Wiñkþe (Weenk-day) to give a boy a secret name, so that he could grow up without sickness and live a long life. Girls were never given Wiñkþe names. The Wiñkþe names were never used when speaking to the person or about the person.If ever used, they would imply an insult or put down. These names often were not too flattering and were best kept secret.

A wiñkþe is a man who has dreamed or had a vision of living like a woman. He is considered waíañ or sacred. A wiñkþe dresses like a woman and lives his life like a woman.They excel in women's work and often have the ability to cure the sick. Wiñkþe's usually live a long life, therefore, it is believed that a name given by a Wiñkþe ensures longevity.

It has been written by whitemen, that an Indian child was named after the first thing the mother saw after the birth of the child. This is not so, though it is possible in some cases. Some have also written that the child was named after some significant event that took place about the time of the birth. This occasionally happened, but usually only when the event was of extreme significance. According to oral tradition, this was how the famous Chief Red Cloud was named. At the time of his birth, it is said, a meteor lit the sky. Thus, he was named Maüöiya Luþa (Mahk-pee-yah Lou-dah), meaning sacred red sky.

The child's honour or public name was given to the child in a public ceremony. Such a ceremony may be held four days after the child was born or anytime thereafter. To postpone the ceremony, too long, was considered disrespectful to the child. During this ceremony, a spiritual leader or other distinguished person would name the child. A feast was prepared for all the people and gifts were given to the Elders, the poor and others in honour of the child.

For a boy, such names usually indicated some distinguishing characteristic or famous deed of his ancestors. A name could not be taken, while another person bearing that name, was still alive. He was expected to live up to the name, defend it and pass it on, unstained. Through this custom, he is given public recognition by the people, told what is expected of him and encouraged to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors. The public giving of gifts or giveaway, taught him to show love and good will toward his fellow man. If the boy did not live up to his name, he would no longer be known by that name.

One story tells of how Chief Rain in the Face received his name. It is said that
his mother had taken him outdoors in his cradleboard. He looked to the sky to speak with the spirits in the other world, which babies do often. A thunderbird then came to sit in a tree nearby and a shower fell. His mother took him inside the tipi, where she spoke to him softly as she wiped his face dry. His father, who was resting in the tipi, said, "It is a sign. Let the child be called Rain in the face".
If he does not fall, but on the other hand performs some special deed or wins some distinguished honour on his own account, he may be given a special deed name. For a deed requiring great courage, the name of a brave animal such as a bear or buffalo is given. Other times, names of noble birds such as eagle,
hawk or owl. The nature of the deed, determined what name was chosen. It also helped to determine what qualifying or descriptive words would be added, such as Charging Eagle or Conquering Bear.

If the deed required special strength, swiftness, agility and endurance, names of animals or birds bearing those characteristics were chosen, such as elk, deer, antelope, wolf, fox, badger, horse, raven, falcon and magpie. At times, the name given described the deed, as in these names: Struck by the Ree, Kills in Water, Kills Enemy, Shoots the Bear and Runs Above.

Names of the elements were commonly used to describe a man's temperament or personality. A bad tempered man may be called Storm or Whirlwind. A good natured or cheerful person might be named Rainbow or Rising Sun. Kindness was indicated by names which include the word sky or cloud such as Red Cloud, Touch the Cloud, Blue Sky or Hole in the Day, all names of well known Chiefs.

Sometimes the idea of bravery or swiftness was conveyed by the name of an animal or bird and was combined with a word that suggests sacredness or spiritual qualities, for example Thunder Bear, Sacred Cow and Holy Bull. Names like Wise Spirit, Mysterious Voice, Stands Holy and Little Ghost, all have spiritual reference.

The highest type of brave deed name is represented by the words thunder or lightning. Crazy Bull and Crazy Horse stand for utter fearlessness and unconsciousness of danger, rather than madness. Resourcefulness, generosity and productivity are expressed in the names with earth, such as Red Earth and Good Earth. Fire represents daring and war like qualities, such as Fire Thunder, Fire Cloud and Roaring Fire.

Color was used in a symbolic sense. The colors: black, red, yellow and white symbolically represent the four directions and may be used in a name to make reference to a direction. For example, the name Black Eagle could refer to an eagle that lives or comes from the west. The color word, Luta or scarlet, when used in a name, gives it a spiritual connotation. Whereas, a color word may be used merely for describing something such as Roan Horse, roan meaning the color of the horse. Numerals were used in a like manner. Some names simply describe some personal quality the person is known for, such as Many Deeds, Good Voice, Brave, Defender, Orphan, Left Hand and Pretends Eagle. Others were given names that described a skill they possessed or their personal property, such as Charger, Swift, Big Lodge, Good Shot, Two Shields, Red Shirt and Many Horses.

Wi©aßa (Weechah-shah), which can mean man or guardian spirit, was often incorporated with animal names. The connotation being that the animal named, is a guardian spirit of the individual.
Some names were figurative. An example of a highly figurative name is that of Wiyotanka Luta (Wee-yo-tahn-kah Lou-dah) that literally translates to mean: "upon an eminence glowing with scarlet light" . The reference is to the Sun, who at the close of the day's journey, rests for a moment on the horizon. Another is Ahiyanke (Ah-hee- yahn-kay), when literally translated, it means: "one who has come to stay or live among the people".

The same principles were applied in giving girls honour or public names. On occasion, women were given special deed names. However, the names assigned to girls and women were usually more feminine. If the name of an animal or bird was used in a name, usually reference was made to animals and birds that were known for industriousness or gentleness. Reference was commonly made to the earth, sky, wind or water, but fire was considered a masculine name. Women's names most commonly end in wiñ (ween) or wiñna (ween-nah) which are forms of the word wiñyañ (ween-yahn) or women. Some may even end with wiñyañ but not all names have a feminine ending. The following are some women's names with their literal and symbolic translation:

Waü©a Waßþe (Wahk-chah Wash-day) Pretty Flower (beautiful)
Ojiñjiñtka (Oh-zhin-zhint-kah) Rose (admirable)
Ziñtkala Ska (Zint-kah-lah Skah) White Bird (pure)
Lowañ Ho Wiñ (Lowahn Hoe Ween) Singing Voice Woman
Wa©i Wiñ (Wah-chee Ween) Dancing Girl
Hañþay Wiñ (Hahn-day Ween) Cedar Woman (faithful)
Wazimina Wiñ (Wahzee-me-nah Ween) Odors of the Pine (wholesome, refreshing)
Maía Wiñ (Mah-kah Ween) Earth Woman (motherly, generous)
Maüöiya Wiñ (Mahk-pee-yah Ween) Sky or Cloud (heavenly)
Iüa Wiñ (Ehk-ah Ween) Laughing Woman (good natured)
Wiío (Wee-kho) Pretty Woman
Pte Sañ Wiñ (Ptay-sahn Ween) White Buffalo Woman (sacred woman)
Maða Ska Wiñ (Mah-gah Skah Ween) Swan Woman (graceful)
Wasula Win (Wahsue-lah Ween) Little Hail-storm (stormy, impulsive)
Snana (Snah-nah) Jingles (little bells, musical)
Taluþa (Tah-lou-dah) Scarlet (brilliant)
Tatiyoöa (Tah-tea-yo-pah) Her Door (good hostess)
Åaü©a Wiñ (Tahk-cha Ween) Doe (loving)
Witaßna (Wee-ta-shnah) Untouched (virgin)
¢aöa Wiñ (chah-pah Ween) Beaver (industrious)
Añöeþu Luþa (Ahn-bay-due Lou-dah) Red Day (radiant)
Wiúmuñki Wiñ (Week-moon-key Ween) Rainbow (return of blessings)

When the Daíoþa/Naíoþa/Laíoþa people were put onto reservations/reserves, the Indian Agents forced the women to take the name of their husband or father as a surname and gave them Christian first names. By taking the name of their husband or father, the women lost their individual identity.

As a matter of respect, the Daíoþa/Naííoþa/Laíoþa people did not use the name of a deceased individual when speaking of him or her. If the family chose to perform the Spirit-keeping ceremony, in which the Spirit of the deceased is kept for one year. The deceased would be given a Spirit name. Thereafter, the deceased would be referred to by the Spirit name.

Many Daíoþa/Laíoþa/Naíoþa names have been mistranslated by interpreters. An example, is the translation of raven. The raven was considered a dignified bird, but it's name has generally been mistranslated as crow, when literally translated, means the scolding grandmother. Such a name would only be used in teasing. The famous Chief known as, Young Man Afraid of His Horses, was really called Man Whose Horse is Feared (by the enemy), which is another example of the errors that have been made.

The Indian Agents and the missionaries discouraged the Daíoþa/Naíoþa/Laíoþa families from continuing their naming customs once they were placed on reservations/reserves. They gave each individual a Christian first name and often assigned them a non-Indian last name, however, many families secretly continued to carry on traditional Indian naming ceremonies. Today, these ceremonies are once again being held in public and many children are being given traditional names as well as their birth record names. The child's traditional name is often used in ceremonies and pow-wows, rather than the birth record name. Some families are also giving their children traditional names for first names, instead of standard non-Indian names. Rather than being named John, a boy might be named Maüöiya (Mahk-pee-yah) which means Cloud or Aúi©iþa (Ah-ghee-chee-dah) which means Soldier. A girl might be named Taßina (Tah-sheenah) which means her shawl or §iyo (She-yo) which means Prairie Chicken, instead of Mary.