What is in a Name?
Two Hawks, Running Turtle, Standing Bear, Raven Hawk, Beautiful Painted Arrow, Little Bear, Fire Horse, Fire Dog, Black Eagle, Two Feathers, Crazy Horse, Wild Horse Woman, Eagle Chief etc. etc., names that are running rampant in the urban areas of South Texas. I am sure there are so many more names that are out there that would be indicative of an Indian Identity. But what about Furry Rabbit, Two Mice, No Lice, Don't know who I am, Lost in the white world, Two Cappuccinos, Triple scoop of strawberry, Two Bowls of Menudo, Dances with SUV, names more adequate for the times for urbanites that have found there identity without a connection to their ancestors or future generations.
No disrespect, on my part to those families who from birth carried their name with honor and pride, like the Standing Bear family and others names that too many are very sacred as well, like Crazy Horse. So the QUESTION still remains what is in a name? Another Question why do people change their names from Martinez to Two Feathers, Gutierrez to Two Hawks, Sandoval to Standing bear and so on and so on? It is predicament that still baffles me. Here in Texas, because of the colonization of Spaniards and through the Spanish Land Grants, we as Indian people were only part of the fauna that the Gauchpines owned. We were mere property of the Land owners. We were the first slaves in the United States due to the "encomiendas" of the Spaniards. The Spanish Land Grants became the owners of our lands and our being, but not our spirit.
Landowner's last names were added to the renaming of the property, including our ancestors. Recording names by ruthless priests who forced acculturated our ancestors to the point of cutting our heads, hands, feet; this is documented in a cave at Lake Alan Henry in Post, Texas (i.e. same cave that has the moth man). Landowners like Garcia, Arocha, Cruz, and so on were given to our Indian Ancestors. In some cases, the priest would give the name of Tribe, Band, trait of Band, or of one the clans, like Cano (canyon), Garza (crane), Mancias, (people of prayer) Hipolito (name of trait of the deer clan), San Miguel (name of Saint Michael for the warrior's societies).
This effort of the colonizers was to make sense of our existence. It was their effort to make us more like them. We were not human we were just property to their bidding. They were stealing our identities by changing our ancestors to something they could understand. The colonizers were uncertain of the communication we had with the Creator and the creation. They were ignorant, greedy, and most of all afraid to know the reality of living with the creation. They wanted to own the wealth that does not belong to them in the first place. They brought their methods of controlling even their own God. So, the control over all that was owned became the attitude and mentality.
There is a book out there called the CANNIBAL COAST, that makes reference to the Chiefs of the Karankwa were given Spanish names as were the Hasnai, the Caddo and the Tonkawa. The Americans that came in with Moses Austin could not speak Spanish very well so they 'Americanized' names like Chief Jose Miguel to Chief Hozzie McGill. Just like the word 'vaquero' became buckaroo; la riata became lariat. Just like Bison was misnamed to Buffalo, Human Beings became Indians, all misnomers.
So what is in a name? It is certainly not something that can be explained in the colonizers language. You have to consider that both English and Spanish ARE foreign languages (one reason the colonizers could not understand). Both Languages are from Europe. The Name Witkiko Tshunka came in a sacred way and given in the same way in the language of the land. Tecumseh's name came in a sacred way as well in the language of the people.
So what is in name? Identity through language, history, customs, connection to the ancestor, connection to the future generations certainly is prerequisites to knowing your name. Now, for those who are going down to the court house and changing their name to Black Eagle, Cheyenne, Rain Man, Running Turtle, Walking Eagle, I say know your people, respect your people, respect the ancestors, and walk with your people. Don't just Change your name to accommodate the Colonizer Mentality and romanticize the comfortableness of the colonizers. We are Indian, because our people have survived an American Holocaust that no one wants to admit to.
So STOP changing your names in English to Crazy Horse, Black Horse, Standing Bear, and Running Water Woman and so on and so on. Just because you found you had Indian blood a few years ago and you needed to show how Indian you were you changed your name to make it more Indian. Saying, I am Jane "Running Dove" Jones does not make you more Indian today or tomorrow to me. You are still using the Colonizer's language.
Do your people call you Running Dove in your language when you are with them? Then, only then, you will understand what it means to be Indian. Then you will know that we are not Indians but Human Beings in the language of the people.
If you insist on doing this be an Indian of your times and age. Here are some suggestions to Change your name to, Road Rage, Makes the white man Comfortable, Quarter Pounder with Cheese Man, Votes Republican woman, Dooney Burke woman, Macy's Shopper, Cabela's man, Budweiser Man, Dances for the White man, Wannabe Medicine Man, Looks like Santa Claus man. Now, you can put your Indian name in Apostrophes, Jane "Wears Victoria Secrets" Jones.
This very reason of changing our names in English does not make anyone more Indian. We have to wake up to our people and the ongoing American Holocaust that we are a part of through the acculturated name that was given to us by our fathers and mothers, and by their fathers and mothers, We must trace the "point of contact" as sociologist like to say. We must connect to the reason that was misunderstood, not add on to it by accommodating the romanticization of the oppression. By doing so we accept the fact that nothing wrong has occurred, that our people were not raped, murdered, tortured or erased from history.
Your effort to be more Indian is admirable, but not helpful to the countless of dead relatives that suffered. Your effort is without guidance of the people who still suffer to bring a message to overcome the oppressive attitudes of "New World Order" mentality.
My people are my passion. The WASP Male mentality does not make me credible. My People make me Credible. The same people that call themselves Esto-k , the Human people. Now, that is where your name is.
What is in Name?
Yen nawi's Nepol'k Kiapan'k
Juan Benito Mancias.
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