Sunday, September 28, 2008
Traditionally Indians were given Indian names at a few years of age, again when they reached puberty, and finally when they accomplished something noteworthy. Typically, Indian names reflected some part of a person’s personality or habits that stood out from the rest of the Tribe. There are also many names that defy interpretation and are basically the same as given names we use today. There were many other names that sounded like English names and were recorded with fixed English spelling.
Na-Ni was recorded as Nanny, or Nancy
Aul-Cih was recorded as Alsey or Allice
Su-San was recorded as Susan
Ah-Ne was recorded as Annie
Ah-Che was recorded as Archie or Arch
The earliest introduction of English names came from shipwrecked whites that were assimilated into the Tribe. The earliest records indicate “White’s Lost Colony” of Roanoke Island, was rescued from violent hurricanes by a friendly Band of Cherokees from North Carolina. When White returned three years later, the town had been completely destroyed and only the word Croatian was carved into the trunk of a tree.
These refugees intermarried with the Indians and kept their English language and customs nearly intact for nearly 200 years until they were ‘discovered’ in Eastern and Central North Carolina. The names from the old colony lists were well-established family names in the Cherokee Nation prior to the British arrival in-strength in 1740.
The vast majority of English names came from early British soldiers or merchants who took Cherokee wives while they were on the ‘frontier’. Early Fur Traders or ‘Indian Traders’ were typically Scotsmen who had been ‘transported’ to the Colonies as prisoners of war from the Scottish Revolutions.
These men had been captured in battle with the English and it was expensive to keep them in prisons, and there was always a chance of an escape. The Colonies needed laborers that the British colonists felt was beneath them, but they couldn’t afford to buy slaves. The Scottish rebels were packed on ships and ‘transported’ to the New World and auctioned on their arrival for the cost of their transport, into Indentured Servitude.
These indentured servants couldn’t attract a mate, due to their economic status. As soon as they had completed their term of servitude, typically 7 years, they would set off to the frontier to make their fortune. The most lucrative trade at the time was furs and skins for the European markets. Indian Tribes tended to distrust whites that were just passing through their Nation, so business was difficult if not dangerous.
Scotsmen found the rough life to their liking and were easily persuaded to take an Indian wife. By marrying into the Tribe, the man acquired a large extended family of his wife’s Clan. By living among the Indians, he gained the Indians trust that he would provide a ‘fair trade’ for the furs and skins. By learning the language and the Tribal customs, he became an interpreter to the British outposts, British merchants, and government agencies.