In the Navajo tradition, names have great power. Navajo names are so precious, in fact, that they are usually reserved for use during ceremonies. Over the course of an average day, each person is referred to as their role in the family.
“Son, go find Father,” someone might say.
There is more than a sense of identity that comes with a Navajo name. The name becomes the very definition of who they are. Each name is descriptive, and, in some tribes, a person’s name may even change as their life evolves with age.
Though to be fair, the Navajo call themselves something else. They go by the name Diné, which literally means “people.”
Navajo Names for Girls
Although the names are descriptive, there are some common Navajo names that are used today. Here are a few of the most popular names for girls and what the name actually means.
Ajei: Literally, “My Heart.” It describes a person who has great importance or significance.
Asdza: Or, “Woman.” It describes the hope of what a girl will become one day – a strong woman.
Chooli: This means “Mountain.” A person who is steadfast and will not have their foot moved.
Dezba: Means “Warrior.” It may describe a child’s fighting spirit or be assigned to a soldier.
Haloke: Literally, “Salmon.” The salmon is reliable, earning trust by following specific habits.
Navajo Names for Boys
The Navajo names for boys follow the same rules. They are meant to be highly descriptive as a way to enhance each identity. Here are some of the popular names for boys and what the name means.
Atsa: Literally, “Eagle.” It may be a representation of a spirit animal or describe great speed.
Bidzii: Or, “Strength.” A boy may be physically, mentally, or spiritually strong – if not all three.
Gad: This means “Juniper Tree.” Junipers grow tall and strong, providing shade in the desert.
Tahoma: Means “Edge of the Water.” It reflects the quiet patience required when by a river.
Yas: Literally, “Snow.” When it snows, the world becomes quiet and peaceful.
There are many components behind the name that is given to a child in the Diné culture. By understanding the importance of these names, the importance of the individual can be understood with greater ease as well.