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Native American Names Round 1 — Cherokee

posted by: Dantea View all posts by this author

By Dantea, aka Angel Thomas

As many of you know, I’m a good half Greek, but as not too many of you know, the other half of me is Choctaw and Cherokee Native American.  Today, I’ll focus on Cherokee names and naming rules and next time we’ll look at Choctaw.

Cherokee has its own alphabet and its own naming rules, much like any other language. For example: There are no Cherokee sounds for the letters B, F, P, R, V, X, Z, SH, or TH. Cherokee speakers replace them with the lettesr QU so they would pronounce Rebecca “quay-quay-gah”. SH becomes S, TH becomes T, R is sometimes L or QU (Mary would be may-lee), and KR/CR/CHR becomes QU so Chris becomes quiss.

In Cherokee, syllables end in vowels so if your name ends in a consonant, like Megan, you become Megana.

Seven is a very important number to the Cherokee spiritually. There were seven clans, seven levels to the Universe, and so on, which is why it was used in their naming. Cherokee society is matrilineal so the child takes its name from its mother. There would be a ceremony within seven days of the birth, including the tribe’s priest and several wise women. A prominent elderly woman would name the baby based on its appearance at birth or, resemblance to some object. The name given at birth was frequently a nickname that would be changed later according to deeds and life experience. A name was considered part of the personality and it was believed that injury would occur if the name was misused.

Here are some Cherokee names and their meanings.

Girls:

Adsila — ahd-SEE-lah — “blossom”

Agasga — ah-GAHS-gah — “rain”

Ahyoka — ah-YOH-kah — “She brought happiness”

AmaAH-mah — “water”

Atsila — aht-SEE-lah — “fire”

Awinita — ah-wee-NEE-tah — “Fawn

Galilahi — GAH-lee-LAH-hee — “Attractive”

Gola — GOH-lah — “winter”

Inola — ee-NO-lah — “black fox”

Kamama — kah-MAH-mah — “butterfly”

Salali — sah-LAH-lee — “squirrel”

TayanitaTAH-yah-NEE-tah — “young beaver”

Tsula — JOO-lah — “fox”

Unega — oo-NAY-gah — “white”

Woya — WOH-yah — “dove”

Yona — YOH-nah — “bear”

Boys:

Ahuli — ah-HOO-lee — “drum”

Atohi — ah-TOH-hee — “woods”

Atsadi — aht-SAH-dee — “fish”

Diwali — dee-WAH-lee — “bowls”

Dustu — DOO-stoo — “spring frog”

Kanuna — kah-NOON-ah — “bullfrog”

Onacona — OH-nah-COH-nah — “white owl”

Sequoyah — say-KWOH-yah — “sparrow”

Tsiyi — JEE-yee — “canoe”

Unaduti — OO-nah-DOO-tee — “wooly head”

Waya — WAH-yah — “Wolf

WesaWAY-sah — “cat”

Wohali — woh-HAH-lee — “eagle”

Here is a pronunciation key:

a = like the a in father

e = similar to the a in Kate

i = like the i in police, i.e ee

o = like the o in note

u = like the u in tune, like oo

v = like the u in fun but nasalized. So like when you say uh-huh.

ai = like the i in ice

tl = like the Ll in the beginning of Llewellyn–a breathy L

ts = like a J

y = as in yes

Whether you saw something usable or not here, I hope you found this interesting.  Until the next article with Choctaw names…happy naming!

Angel Thomas, better known on Nameberry as Dantea, is a stay-at-home mom with a passion for onomastics who writes fantasy novels in her spare time. Her knowledge of Greek names stems from her ancestry and her religion. 

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About the author

Dantea

Angel Thomas, better known on Nameberry as Dantea, is a stay-at-home mom with a passion for onomastics who writes fantasy novels in her spare time. Her knowledge of Greek names stems from her ancestry and her religion.
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10 Responses to “Native American Names Round 1 — Cherokee”

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KateMP91 Says:

October 15th, 2013 at 11:06 pm

I like the sound and meaning of Wohali. It would certainly make a cool middle, at the very least.

This post has inspired me to do some of my own Native American tribal naming background research of sorts!

Cheele Says:

October 16th, 2013 at 12:28 am

Inola is beautiful.

Very interesting post. Can’t wait for the next.

LemonThistle Says:

October 16th, 2013 at 12:57 am

Dantea, you are my favorite flavor of Berry Juice. Great job, as always, writing an article that is both substanative and fun.

Seconding love for Inola.

jame1881 Says:

October 16th, 2013 at 6:27 am

I like Wesa and Onacona, just by their sounds. I also love the idea of “little white owl”) Gola isn’t bad either, especially with its meaning. I like the idea of naming a child based on their looks – you know the name fits the child, at least for the moment, and s/he can change it later.

gwensmom Says:

October 16th, 2013 at 8:47 am

I already have my girls but if I were still naming,
Ahyoka — ah-YOH-kah — “She brought happiness” would be near impossible to resist!

auroradawn Says:

October 16th, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Interesting post–thanks! Now I wish I had some Cherokee connection so I could consider some of these. My favorites are Ahyoka (adorable!), Adsila and Atsila. Galilahi is loads of fun to say and makes me think of both Galilee and Leilani.

calypsotheoneandonly Says:

October 17th, 2013 at 10:57 am

Diwali is a prominent Indian festival, so I find the idea of using at as a name intriguing. Great post! I really love Atsila, Adsila, and Inola.

Aveline_Bellefleur Says:

October 17th, 2013 at 6:28 pm

So Lucy would be pron. Lou-see-ah? Many ppl say Lucia is pron, in this way, but am I correct in saying, having grown up around Italians, that Lucia is pron. Loo-chee-ah? This is what i was called for years in Italian households.

I like Loo-see-ah //Lucya 😉 Love, love, love this article!!
Great read!

Dantea Says:

October 17th, 2013 at 6:33 pm

I’m glad so many of you liked it. ^_^

Lucy would be like loo-Kyah. Y doesn’t make an ee sound, it just says yuh like in yes then with the added A. 🙂

native american girl names that start with j | Beauty girl images Says:

October 23rd, 2016 at 11:24 pm

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