Unusual baby name: Navarana

Navarana, Pipaluk, Peter Freuchen, and Mequsaq
Navarana, Pipaluk, Peter Freuchen, and Mequsaq

I mentioned the name Navarana in the post on Greenlandic names the other day. The name means “the one that alternates between different parties” and can be traced back to the proto-Eskimo root *naverar, “to exchange,” “to trade.”

The name comes from Inuit mythology:

Navarana is the main character in a legend which is known among most Inuit tribes, the name depicts an activity where a person alternated between two different tribes and ended up creating disunity. In Greenland it was a woman between the Norsemen and the Greenlanders, in other Inuit tribes it was an activity between Inuit and Indians.

One real-life Navarana was the first wife of Danish polar explorer Peter Freuchen, who lived for many years in northern Greenland.

Navarana Freuchen was a Greenlandic Inuit woman originally known as Mequpaluk (meaning “little feather”). Around the time she married Peter, in 1911, she changed her name to Navarana — a fitting choice, given her new dual-tribe status.

The couple went on to have two children: a boy named Mequsaq (“featherlike”) in 1915, and a girl named Pipaluk (“little possession”) in 1918.

Sadly, Navarana died of the flu in 1921. But her name was passed down to at least one grandchild — Navarana, Pipaluk’s daughter with then-husband Bengt Häger (a Swedish dance promoter).

What are your thoughts on the name Navarana?


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