Monday, August 19, 2013

Shaw Wa Ne Quay

Q: My great-great-grandmother was Native American and her Algonquin name was Shaw Wa Ne Quay. Can you tell me what her name meant?

A: This was probably a corruption of the Algonquin name Jàwanikwe (pronounced similar to zhah-wuh-nih-kway; the Algonquin "j" is similar to the French "J" in Jacques.) The same name is Zhaawanikwe in the closely related Ojibwe language.

If so, the meaning of this name has variously been given as "bluebird woman," "south wind woman," or "southern woman." Zhaawan/Jàwan literally means "south" in the Algonquin and Ojibwe languages, but in Algonquin and Eastern Ojibwe, it is also the word for a bluebird, and sometimes it is also used to refer to the south wind. The specific meaning probably depended on the community your ancestor lived in.

Hope that is helpful, have a good day!
Native Languages of the Americas

Further reading:
Ojibwe language
Native American names
Native American bluebird meaning

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