My husband and I went on a road trip last week (Denver to Mesa Verde, to the Grand Canyon, to Las Vegas, then back to Denver). I won’t go crazy with a long series of posts like I did a couple of years ago, but we did spot some interesting names while walking the rim of the canyon:
The caption reads: “Tlutha and wife Tsoojva, a Havasupai family photographed in 1899, made their home at Indian Garden until 1928.” That was the year the last of the Havasupai were forced out of the canyon by the National Park Service. (Indian Garden is a riparian area about 5 miles below the rim.)
Tsoojva’s name means “dangling.” I’m not sure what Tlutha’s name means, but he was known to outsiders as Billy Burro.
Here’s more info on Havasupai names:
Havasupai names originally represented whimsical nicknames. Baa Gtgoohva (Bumping Into) received his name when he sneaked into his girlfriend’s bed and then bumped into another man coming to visit as he left. Ii Jgyaava (Axe) got his name when he married Ii (Stick). People called Watahomigie Bqii ‘Bee’ (Totes a Woman) because he physically carried home his wife Suwjaqwa. Today each Havasupai still bears at least one such “Indian name,” sometimes irreverent, that friends and acquaintances use instead of the regular name. Translated, they mean such things as “Mule,” “Backbone,” or “The Swallower.” Many older people do not even recognize their ancestors’ official names because they never knew them by any but their Havasupai names.
- Hirst, Stephen. I Am the Grand Canyon: The Story of the Havasupai People. Grand Canyon, AZ: Grand Canyon Association, 2006.
- NCHGC: History: Native Cultures: Havasupai (ASU)