Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nantan Lupan

 Q: Upon reading an entry on the internet concerning American General George Crook, I saw his Native American scouts who were of the Apache nation, nicknamed him Natan lupan which was translated as Grey Wolf. You will be aware the Latin for wolf is lupus, I find it strange that two races, 1,000 years and 5,000 miles apart should use the same name for the wolf without apparent contact.

I would be grateful for your opinion!

 A: Thanks for writing. No, the Apache word for "wolf" is not "lupan," it is ba'cho. George Crook's nickname usually seems to be spelled "Nantan Lupan," at least online. Nantan means "chief" or "leader" in Apache; if "Lupan" meant "wolf" then that part of his name must have come from Spanish, which was widely used in the Southwest in the 1800's (many famous Apache people also have nicknames with Spanish origins, including Geronimo and Mangas Coloradas.) The usual Spanish word for "wolf" is "lobo," but more Latinate forms like Lupe and Lupán are still used in proper names.

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

Further reading:
Apache language
Apache pronunciation
Apache Indians

1 comment:

  1. Thank you!
    I was wondering about this for years, after seeing that Geronimo film, in which Gene Hackman plays Crook, the "Nantan Lupan". In my native Romanian the word for wolf is "lup" so it immediately struck me as odd. Your explanation makes perfect sense.
    -Adrian Turcu