Saturday, September 26, 2015

Black Hawk

Q: An old Sauk woman told us that Black Hawk's name was mistranslated into English and should really be  He-Who-Walks-In-The-Shadow-Of-The-Hawk or Shadow Hawk. My  question is: how do I properly pronounce his correct name in his language. Names are important and should be spoken correctly. Any help you can give us to properly pronouncing Chief Black-Hawk's name in his own language will be much appreciated and gratefully received.

ABlack Hawk's name in Sauk was Mahkateewimešikeehkeehkwa. That is pronounced similar to mah-kah-tay-wih-meh-shih-kay-kay-kwuh. 

I'm not really sure what the lady was trying to say about walking in shadows. There's nothing in this name about walking or shadows, but perhaps something was implied by his name that was only known to people of the older generation. Traditional Algonquian names sometimes had clan implications beyond their literal translations. We can tell you that literally, what this name means is "great black sparrowhawk." Mahkateewi means black, meši means big or great, and keehkeehkwa is the word for a sparrowhawk.

Hope that helps, have a good day!

Further reading:
Sauk language
Sac and Fox people
Hawk mythology   

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