The indigenous peoples of the Americas are comprised of many tribes and cultures and speak many different languages. Naming practices vary widely from tribe to tribe, and it's neither possible nor advisable to make any generalizations about name meanings throughout the myriad native cultures in North, Central, and South America.
That said, there are a few fascinating patterns and individual cultural practices; for example, some indigenous baby names come from nature, are based on what was happening during the child’s birth or pay tribute to a child's characteristics and attributes. In certain indigenous cultures, the child isn't even named until they reach puberty, at which point the name is representative of the identity
the child has grown into. Native American naming ceremonies can be elaborate or they can be quiet and private. Native names are as countless as native cultures, which is saying a lot!
If you have Native heritage, you may love one of these names for your new little one.
- Na'estse: Means "one" in Cheyenne
- Nese: "Two" in Cheyenne
- Nistu: Means "three"
- Neewa: Means "four"
- Niaran: means "five"
- Enemene: Means "sing" in Cheyenne
- Enesta: Means "hear" in Cheyenne
- Toma: Means "sun" in Wiyot
- Tepkunset: Means "moon"
- Seke: Means "black"
- Nagamao: Means "sing"
- Maji: Means "leave"
- Winona: Means "first daughter"
- Tanis: Means "daughter"
- Nizhoni: Means "beautiful"
- Meli: Means "daughter"
- Kateri: The Mohawk version of Catherine
Many of the names below are the translations of nature words from various Native languages.
More: Unusual Irish Baby Names That Are Over-the-Top Beautiful
A version of this article was originally published in November 2010.