Personal Names of the Gosiute Indians

gosiute mother and child

The Gosiutes (or Goshutes) are a Shoshonean-speaking Native American group that traditionally lived in the Great Basin region of Utah.

In the early 1900s, Utah-based academic Ralph V. Chamberlin (1879-1967) collected dozens of Gosiute personal names. According to his research, the names fell into several categories:

  • Names that referred to physical appearance
  • Names that referred to “peculiarity of manner or conduct or to some marked personal habit”
  • Names taken from places, materials, or objects
  • Names taken from animals
  • Names “taken from other Indian tongues and…also from English”

He also noted that the “same person frequently receives several [names] in the course of his life”:

The name borne in childhood perhaps in most cases is changed in later life; while the name of an adult may be suspended or used interchangeably with another given in consequence of some newly acquired characteristic or of some event of importance in his life.

Here are most of the Gosiute names Chamberlin mentioned in a speech he gave in early 1912:

  • Ai’ba-pa – “clay water” (from the name of a local stream)
  • Äñ’ka-bi-pi-dûp – “ghost”
  • An’tsi – “a barren flat”
  • A’pam-pi – “horn head” (for a chief; it referred to the chief’s headdress)
  • An’tsi – “a flat without grass”
  • Dsa’kûp – “broken”
  • Gwa’na-se – “sand”
  • Ham’bu-i – “blind eye”
  • Hoi – “chipmunk”
  • Ǐ’ca-gwaim-no-dsûp – “back apparently broken” (for a boy with a spinal curvature)
  • Kûm’o-rûp – “rabbit ears” (for a boy with conspicuous ears)
  • Kun – “fire”
  • Man’tsi-rǐtc – “to hold the hands in the supine position” (for a woman who often held her hands this way)
  • Ma’ro-pai – “fighter”
  • Mo’ro-wǐntc – from root words meaning “nose” and “to pull or draw up” (for a woman who often turned up her nose)
  • Mu’nai – “moon”
  • Mûts’ěm-ti-a – “mountain sheep”
  • Mû’tsûmp – “mustache” (for a girl with hair on her upper lip)
  • Nam’pa-cu-a – “foot dragger” (for a man with a wooden foot)
  • Nan’nan-tci (male) or Na’na-vi (female) – “to grow up tall”
  • No’wi-ûp – “camp mover”
  • Oi’tcu – “bird”
  • Pai’yä-nuk – “laughing water” (for a woman with a happy disposition)
  • Pa’ri-gwǐ-tsûp – “mud”
  • Pa’so-go – “swampy ground”
  • Pa’wi-noi-tsi – from root words meaning “water” and “to travel or ride” (for “a man spoken of in tradition as having a very long time ago built a vessel and navigated the Great Salt Lake”)
  • Pi’a-waip – “big woman”
  • Pǐ’dji-bu-i – based on bi’dji, “mammae” (for a girl with “precociously developed mammae”)
  • Pǐn’ji-rû – from the name of a bird
  • Po’go-nûp – “black currant”
  • Pu’i-dja – from the English word “pudgy”
  • Ta’bi – “sun”
  • Ta’di-en – from the English word “Italian” (for a boy thought to resemble an Italian)
  • Tai’bo-hûm – based on tai’bo, “white person” (for a boy who was a favorite of the white people)
  • Toip – “pipe” (for a man who always smoked a particular pipe)
  • Tu’gan – “night, darkness”
  • Tu’o-ba – “dark water”
  • Tu’o-bai – from root words meaning “dark” and “abounding in” (for a woman with an unpleasant disposition)
  • Wa-da’tsi – “bitter”
  • Wǐ’ni – from the English name Winnie
  • Wu’dǐ-tci – “black bear”
  • Ya’ki-kǐn – “to cry” (for a woman who often wept over her dead relatives)

He also mentioned boy-girl twins named Sa’gûp and Pi’o-ra — the first name referring to the willow tree, the second referring to the sweet-pea, “which lives among and climbs upon the willows, the two names being selected because of this association.”

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