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Navajo Names and Naming Conventions
hidden_gaurdian wrote in little_details
Setting: Modern-day Navajo Tribal Reservation.

Character: Elderly Navajo (Dine) male, born circa 1929, former code-talker for the U.S. Army during the Korean War, acting as an informant on a past military operation for another character.

The Problem: Giving him a name. Research thus far has mentioned a shift from traditional Dine naming conventions (ex Kin-Ya-Onnybeyeh) towards Anglicized naming conventions (ex Carl Nelson Gorman), but yields no information on when that shift took place or what naming conventions preceded the Anglicized shifting.

1) What time period did the shift take place in?
2) Given the birth date of the character, is it more likely for his parents to have used traditional Dine naming conventions or the more Anglicized naming conventions? What naming conventions were being observed during that time period?
3) From what I understand, the US Army gave Anglicized names to recruited code-talkers for use in military buearcracy. If the character received an Anglicized name from the government, would he be more likely to introduce himself using that name when speaking to an Occidental?
4) Assuming this question is still relative at this point, what are the traditional naming conventions the Dine use?

Google searches tried thus far: navajo naming conventions, traditional navajo naming conventions, native american naming conventions, dine naming conventions, shift in navajo naming conventions, time period for shift in navajo naming convention

<- lived and went to high school on the Navajo Reservation, but not Navajo. :)

The shift started taking place when Navajo children were forced to attend boarding schools and were punished when they spoke their native language. ( This would be in the late 19th/early 20th century. Your character may have been forced to attend one of these schools, though he'd be born near the end of the forced attendance and punishment. As a result, he'd most likely be the son of someone forced to attend and would be given an Anglicized name. However, if grandparents are around, they might have insisted on a Dine name. You might want to research clans of the Navajo as well; some naming conventions have to do with what clan the child is born for and what clan he is born to. He would be likely to introduce himself using the Anglicized name, unless he is around older Navajo. Your character is born around the time that the Navajo would have just been trying to get their language and culture "back" from the forced Anglicization, so you can actually play with many of these things.

Edit: Ack, forgot. This would also be during the time when people might have had both Dine and Anglicized names. Also... there is a move - Windtalkers, I believe? With Nic Cage - that does do a good job of chronicling one of these codetalkers in the war. (Except for the last part, where he hands his son the man's dogtags. No Navajo that I know would give his child something that had touched a dead person.)

This might help as well: There is a link for biographies, which might help. I have met Merril Sandoval, and he, out of habit, introduced himself with his "white" name, though he'd never spoken English until he was six or seven years old.

//shuts up. Knows there's a lot there you didn't ask for. Goes away. =D

Edited at 2008-11-30 10:41 pm (UTC)

Don't shut up on my account and there's really no such too thing as TMI on the community.

My brother in law is full-blooded Dineh and his grandfather was a code talker. He always used an Anglican name.

My neices and nephews all have traditional family names: Nesbah, Hoski, Ashkii, Ayebah, and Keybah. The females have the '-bah' names and the boys have '-ki' names.

Would he have been able to be a code-talker during Korea if he was born in 39? That seems awfully young...

Wow, I'm brilliant. Typo. All fixed now.


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