Where did the baby name Nokomis come from in the 1910s?

The characters Nokomis, Suzette, and Suzette's mother from the silent film "Witchcraft" (1916).
Nokomis (standing) from “Witchcraft

The unusual name Nokomis debuted in the U.S. baby name data way back in 1916:

  • 1918: unlisted
  • 1917: 6 baby girls named Nokomis
  • 1916: 5 baby girls named Nokomis [debut]
  • 1915: unlisted
  • 1914: unlisted


My guess is the silent film Witchcraft, which was released in October of 1916.

The film, set in colonial New England, had as a supporting character a Native American woman named Nokomis (played by actress Lillian Leighton).

(The movie’s main character, a young Huguenot woman named Suzette, seems to have given a boost to the name Suzette in 1916 as well.)

Nokomis’ name was probably borrowed from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha (1855). In the epic poem, Nokomis — who fell to earth from the full moon — was the grandmother of the fictional Ojibwe hero Hiawatha.

The name Nokomis is based on the Ojibwe word nookomis, which means “my grandmother.”

What are your thoughts on the name Nokomis?


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