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Navajo Girl Names

navajocodetalkersadmin on August 27, 2014 - 10:00 am in Navajo Rituals

We describe the world around us through names. We sit at our computer, we drink a liquid, we look outside and see the sun, and we think if places we will go next. Names allow us to communicate ideas and locations to one another, creating a more effective and successful society. Names can also have deep personal meaning. From the name of the country you were born in to the name of your child, what we call something and why we call it that has importance. Nowhere is this truer than in the proud Navajo people.

The Navajo of southwestern United States is currently the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States. It is near the four corners region of the US, with the reservation being inhabited by individuals who mostly speak both English and Navajo. There are very few bright spots in the history of American expansion and Navajo subjugation. However, thankfully many Navajo traditions and aspects of the culture survive to today. One part of the culture is the language, and the names given to describe the world around them.

How a culture names things can speak volumes about the people, philosophies and goals of said culture. So, let’s take a look at the Navajo people, and the names the assigned girls.

But First, A Look at Navajo Names and Their Importance

How often have you heard your name used today? If you are like most people who go out in the world and frequently interact with other people, then you no doubt heard it a lot. But what if your name was considered so sacred, that people would not dare to speak it? What if calling your name invoked so much power that people only ever spoke it in times of importance?

For the Navajo people, a name carries a significant amount of importance. It is so important in fact that is only used during ceremonies. In addition, some Navajo tribes have a name trail, where the name changes as the child comes of age. As a result, the name you are born with may not be your name once you hit puberty. For children, the name given to them often represents a particular strength or gift for which they are known. If the child is given another name during a naming ceremony that the second adult name may speak of a skill they hope the child will achieve.

Names and Meanings

Below are a few examples of Navajo girl names along with their meanings in English.

1. Ajei – Meaning “my heart.” One that is important to me or signifies a great importance.
2. Awee – Meaning “Baby.” A frequent name given both as a descriptor as well as general name prior to naming ceremony.
3. Asdza – Meaning “Woman.” A call to what the baby will become.
4. Chooli – Meaning “Mountain.” A term of strength.
5. Dezba – Meaning “War.” Signifies uncertainty and strength.
6. Dibe – Meaning “Lamb.” A reference to innocence and youth.
7. Doba – Meaning “There was no war.”
8. Doli – Meaning “Blue Bird.” A name given to reflect the spirit of the child.
9. Haseya – Meaning “She Rises.” A reference to birth and growing older.
10. Haloke – Meaning “Salmon.”

Naming Structure

As stated before, Navajo names may have multiple iterations depending on the tribe. As a result, a name that began when the girl was born may not carry over when the girl becomes a woman. Whether the second name is related at all to the first tends to vary depending on the tribe, and it is often argued that continuity in naming only exists because the person who has the names remains the same when they age. In addition, there are very few if any instances where a name was taken away or withheld outside of a naming ceremony.

Meaning, Potential, and Desire

Besides being a reflection on the girl, a Navajo girl’s name also has elements of their potential as well as their desire. For example, the Navajo name Atsa, meaning “Eagle,” has a potential for a marketer who desires friendship. Potentials range across those skills required in Navajo culture, including specialists, leaders, philanthropists, administrators, mediators, workers, master builders, entertainers, and leaders. Desires represent basic human dreams and ambitions, and include success, expression, friendship, spiritualism, responsibility, expression, and solitude.

What to Keep In Mind When Choosing A Navajo Name

A stated at the beginning, there is a lot of significance in a name. The Navajo emphasized this when giving a name. Not only does the name carry on with our children well after we die, it bares the desire, potential, and meaning that may define the child. When naming your child, remember all of this and choose carefully. A name is sacred after all.

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