How popular is the baby name Mahpiya in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Mahpiya.

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Popularity of the baby name Mahpiya

Posts that mention the name Mahpiya

Baby born during pipeline protest, named Mni Wiconi (“water is life”)

Sacred Stone Camp, North Dakota (Aug. 2016)
Sacred Stone Camp, North Dakota

From April of 2016 to February of 2017, indigenous people representing hundreds of Native American tribes gathered in temporary camps at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatened the region’s water supply.

The movement’s rallying cry was the Lakota expression “Mni Wiconi” (pronounced m’NEE wee-CHOH-nee), meaning “water is life.”

On October 12, in the early morning, a baby girl was born at one of the camps to Lakota woman Zintkala Mahpiya Wi Blackowl (Sky Bird Woman Blackowl), who had traveled from Oregon to take part in the protest.

Although her husband and family were sleeping in the same tipi, the birth was a private event. In the traditional Lakota way, the mother gives birth alone.

The baby — who was the first (and perhaps only?) baby born at a Standing Rock camp — was named Mni Wiconi.

P.S. An earlier Native American protest in the Dakotas may have been behind the debut of the name Morningstar in 1973…


Image: Adapted from Sacred Stone Camp North Dakota (29167637232) by Tony Webster under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Lakota names: Wicahpi, Wakinyan, Mahpiya

Lakota chief Touch the Clouds (c.1838-1905)
Touch the Clouds

Wicahpi, Wakinyan, and Mahpiya are a several of eye-catching names I spotted in some of the recent SSA baby name data. They’re all Lakota words:

  • Wicahpi means “star.” So far it has appeared just once, in 2005, as a girl name. Nearly all of the Wicahpis accounted for in that year were born in South Dakota specifically.
  • Wakinyan means “thunder,” though it also has ties to mythology. Another definition is “the cause and source of thunder and lightning, once supposed by the Dakotas to be a great bird” (i.e., a thunderbird). Wakinyan has appeared several times in the data during the 2000s, always as a boy name.
  • Mahpiya means “clouds.” It was also “the word the missionaries chose to translate the Christian concept Heaven and can mean the night sky or the heavens in an astronomical sense.” It has appeared just once in the data, in 2018, as a girl name.

I don’t think they were traditionally used as standalone personal names among the Lakota, but they were certainly used as elements in personal names, such as:

  • Star Face (Wic’ahpi Itet’un)
  • Walks with Stars Woman
  • White Thunder (Wakinyan Ska)
  • Fire Thunder (P’eta Wakinyan)
  • Thunder Horse (Wakinyan T’asunke)
  • Thunder Face (Ite Wakinyan)
  • Big Thunder (Wakinyan T’anka)
  • Little Thunder (Wakinyan Cik’ala)
  • Red Cloud (Mahpiya Luta)
  • Touch the Clouds (Mahpiya Icahtagya)

Which of the three do you like best?


  • Buechel, Eugene, and Paul Manhart, eds. Lakota Dictionary: Lakota-English/English-Lakota. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002.
  • Hollabaugh, Mark. The Spirit and the Sky: Lakota Visions of the Cosmos. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017
  • Ingham, Bruce. English-Lakota Dictionary. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 2001.

[Latest update: 7/2022]