Apache Personal Names

According to John C. Cremony, who wrote Life Among the Apaches in 1868, Apache men and women had much less gruesome names than the Miwok.

Apache men were named for “some marked trait of character, personal conformation, or noteworthy act.” But this didn’t happen until they were beyond boyhood. Up to that point, each one was called ish-kay-nay, or “boy.”

Some examples of adult male names:

  • Gian-nah-tah, “Always Ready”
  • Klo-sen, “Hair Rope” (for having lassoed and killed a Comanche with a cabestro)
  • Nah-kah-yen, “Keen Sighted”
  • Nah-tanh, “Corn Flower” (for having once hidden in a field of corn after a raid)
  • Natch-in-ilk-kisn, “Colored Beads”
  • Para-ah-dee-ah-tran, “Contented”
  • Pindah-Lickoyee, “White Eye”
  • Too-ah-yay-say, “Strong Swimmer”

And women? For the most part, they went unnamed. Most were simply called ish-tia-nay, or “woman.” Several did get names, though, such as…

  • Ish-kay-nay, “Boy” (for being a tomboy)
  • Sons-ee-ah-ray, “Morning Star”
  • [Forgotten by the author], “Dexterous Horse Thief”

The name Sonseeahray was used for a character in the Elliott Arnold book Blood Brother (1947), which was later made into the movie Broken Arrow (1950).

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