Friday, August 14, 2015

Names that could be offensive?

QHello. I hate to bother you, but before reading your website, I never realized that some
Native American names could be offensive, so I was wondering if you could clarify what sort of names one shouldn't take for a child. I don't want to accidentally be that guy. Thank you.

AThanks for writing. The most important thing is to avoid the names of historical figures unless you're a direct descendant of theirs. The names of people who have died are considered very sacred cultural property by many tribes, so giving a baby a name like that could indeed be offensive. The names of tribes, like Dakota and Cheyenne, are not necessarily considered offensive as baby names, but they definitely seem to be on the odd side to many Native Americans, because they're the names of nations. It would be like naming babies "Netherlands" and "Mexico." Native American names of animals, plants, stars, and so on are common and are not ordinarily considered offensive and are commonly used as everyday first names, but you still should probably do a little bit of research first-- some animals have negative connotations in some tribes but not in others, for example. You would not want to give a child a name meaning "owl" in the language of a tribe where owls are ill omens of death.

Hope that is the information you were looking for. Have a good night!

Further reading:
Native American names
Native American nations
Native American mythology