Native American Names, Round 2 — Choctaw traditions
We’re back for Round Two of names from my Native American background. The other piece of my Native American side is Choctaw. Though the naming traditions and pronunciations of the Cherokee and Choctaw are very similar, I’ll give a brief overview all the same.
As a Choctaw child, you could have many names over the course of your life. The first name you were given was bestowed at birth by your parents and usually was related to an event that happened around the time of your birth or something that was seen during the event. The women birthed outdoors near streams and so the names tended to be related to nature and animals seen during the process. During the rest of your life, many namse could be added, based on anything from a small happening to a great victory in battle. Many names came from specific groups of names (color, animal type, etc), but there were exceptions to this, too. The red or humma group was one of distinction. Taking a red name called on the Choctaw to act with honor and courage, and was probably one of the largest name groups. Holahta was another name group, roughly meaning “leader,” and was reserved for special use.Here is a selection of Choctaw names:
Atepa — ah-TEE-pah — wigwam
Coahoma — COH-ah-HOH-mah — red panther
Fala — FAH-lah — crow
Issi — IHS-see — deer — The double S is pronounced with a pause between like in dress suit
Kinta — KIN-tah — deer
Nita — NIH-tah — bear
Opa — OH-pah — owl
Panola — pah-NOH-lah — cotton
Poloma — poh-LOH-mah — bow
Talulah — tah-LOO-lah — leaping water
Tula — TOO-lah — peak
Chito — CHIH–toh — handsome
Chochmo — CHOCH-moh — mud mound
Chochokpi — choh-CHOHK– pee — throne for the clouds
Hattak — haht-TAHK — man — The double T’s are both pronounce with a slight pause between them like in night-time
Koi — KOH-ee — panther
Kostini — kohs-TIH-nee — wise
Minco — MIN-coh — chief
Nashoba — nah-SHOH-bah — wolf
Shikoba — shih-KOH-bah — feather
Talako — tah-LAH-koh — eagle
Here’s the pronunciation guide:
a = like the a in father
e = like the i in police
i = like the i in pit and sometimes like in police
o = like the o in note
u = like the u in put
v = like the u in cup
au = like the ow in cow
ai = like eye
lh — like the breathy ll in Llewellyn
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on March 5th, 2014 at 11:53 am
I’ve always had a soft spot for Tula and I love Nashota too. Most of my baby name books seem to lump all of these names under one all-inclusive group of “Native American Names” and it drives me crazy. For that reason, I’m not totally sure which tribe gets the credit for my favourte Native Amercian name: Halona. I’ve seen Chippewa bandied about with the meaning “good fortune” but some websites say Halona is also Hawaiian. Any idea if Chippewa and/or the meaning would be correct or not, Dantea?
on March 5th, 2014 at 5:05 pm
I actually don’t know what tribe it’s from, but none of my sources say Chippewa but all of them say “Happy fortune” or “of happy fortune” so I think it’s safe to bet that’s correct. 🙂 I’ll try to do more of these in the future from different tribes.
on March 5th, 2014 at 6:09 pm
Oh good, at least the meaning of Halona is a good one. I look forward to your future posts on different tribal names.
on March 5th, 2014 at 7:29 pm
So Talulah is Choctaw! I knew it was Native American. I should double-check my baby name books to see whether they got the tribe correct–at least one of them usually lists the tribe. It’s such a pretty name. I knew a lady named Tula; now I’m wondering whether she had Choctaw heritage.
Thanks for the post. I have no Native American heritage so might not use one of these names, but (even lumping them all together) it’s an under-appreciated group of names.
on March 5th, 2014 at 11:30 pm
What a lovely and interesting article. Thank you for putting this together. I look forward to more.
My favorites are Poloma and Kostini.
on March 6th, 2014 at 1:29 am
May I ask who chose the picture for this article? I’m part Mississippi Band Choctaw and I know for a fact that those types of headdresses are not part of choctaw culture. It looks like a bad replica of a plains headdress.
on March 6th, 2014 at 1:50 am
There is a label on it identifying it as Choctaw.
on March 7th, 2014 at 3:36 pm
I don’t choose the pictures. That’s Linda or Pam or one of the other people that work for them.
I’m glad you all liked it. 🙂
on July 10th, 2015 at 8:22 pm
Kinta – beaver, not deer
Chito – little/small, not handsome
Miko, means chief, not minco.
I know this is an old article but just in case someone happens upon it like I did.
Also, Choctaws do not wear a headdress. They may have before introduction to white people but their “official” dress is like that of white people. Tee shirt style tips for men, colonial looking dresses for women.
Now they DO have pow-wows sometimes and they invite other tribes and I see a lot of natives wearing headdresses and the like, but I don’t know which tribe they are from. So Choctaws very well could have headdresses in their pow-wow costumes but not in traditional every day clothing..
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