Known as the largest tribe recognized federally by the United States of America, Navajo Nation constitutes about 300,000 tribal members and is known for the meaningful Navajo surnames that are used in a different way. Most of the surnames that people from the tribe are using are based particularly on the profession of people. The surnames are completely related with every profession, which makes it easy for people to identify the professions of people who belong to the tribe. Each person is given their family name based on the trade that their families are involved with.
Most of the Navajo surnames may not sound just like what professions really are but for their language it always bears the meaning. Aside from the unique origin of their surnames, the tribe is also known for the different pronunciation and spelling of the names. The pronunciation of the surnames’ spelling may vary whenever they travel through family branches and communities as time passes by. These are changing as time passes by and makes the pronunciation of a particular surname change from generations to generations.
Just like the difference in pronunciation, the Navajo surnames were also misspelled in the early times. This makes the surnames led to many misspellings, which changes the pronunciation of the names. The reason why the surnames are misspelled from the early times is because some people who already knew how to write transliterated their surnames based on how they pronounce it. Due to this, it is necessary for people to know first the origins of the surnames to understand the proper use and, somehow, the history of a family.
Some of the interesting ways on how Navajo surnames are recorded through generations are the following:
1. Title in the community. An example of a surname describing a title of a person is Haskie or a Warrior.
2. The clan of the family where a person is from. Todachine is an example meaning that a person is from the bitter water clan.
3. A person may get his or her surname through his familial relation with another person. When a person has Benally as the surname, it means that he is a grandchild.
4. The surname can also be a description of a person’s residence. Biakeddy is used by people residing near a lake.
5. Another way on how a person from the tribe gets his or her surname is through his or her characteristics. A person who is known as a talkative one would have a surname of Zonnie within the tribe.
6. There are also people who get their surnames from their physical description. An obvious example of this is Tsosie, which means that a person is skinny.
With these bases, people are able to get surnames from particular descriptions or characteristics of a person. This will also help other tribe members to know easily why their acquaintances got their surnames and what it really means. There are already many members of the tribe who are using their Navajo surnames based from any situation they are in and knowing what it means will help in understanding the story or description behind that.