This weekend we wanted to spend some time with the kids. Sometimes it seems we are all in different places, and we felt as though we needed to make a deliberate connection. So, we arranged to have a hotdog roast, followed by s'mores. We had their attention at that!
But I still felt we were missing something. And then I remembered a promise I'd made to myself when the kids were born. I had a baby name book with a special chapter devoted to Native American names and their meanings. I envisioned having the kids select their Indian name and make that part of their identity. Well, I decided that the kids were old enough to select their names and appreciate the significance therein.
Family legend on both sides of our family holds that we descend from Indian lineage. We also learned phrases from the Choctaw tongue, which were passed down from our great-grandmother, who once lived in Oklahoma. One of those phrases is "Hopi chumbuli su bunda" which was always supposed to mean, "Pass the sugar". Well, I looked it up and hopi chumbuli does mean sugar in Choctaw. I believe that we have a blood connection with Those Who Were Here Before.
So, I had the kids sit down with the book of names and they each selected the one that spoke to them. We had a blast trying to pronounce the names and imagining how someone came to be named something like, Puts Foot Down, or Buck Antlers from Yellow Bull.
Seth selected Ahusaka (AH-HOO-SAH-KAH), which comes from the Winnebago Nation and means, Strikes His Wings. Seth liked both the sound of the name and the meaning. His full name is Seth Alexander, which means Appointed Defender of Mankind. Adding Ahusaka to his name implies the ability to strike quickly and from above. Side note: he's also a floppy kid. He flops his arms around all the time as if he was a bird. Coincidence?
Caitlin selected Nonooktowa (NO-NOOK-TOW-WAH), which comes from the Modoc Nation and means, The Strange Child. Caitlin has always walked her own path. She doesn't feel the need to follow people or conform to their ways. She has always displayed a natural leadership presence. She is also quirky and funny—and sometimes—well…strange. But this is because she lives true to herself and doesn't fuss about what others think of her. She is her own person. She is the Strange Child, and I'm proud of her for that.
We manufactured a ceremony where I marked on their faces with charcoal and spoke words over them about their unique strengths. I waved smoke over them from my peace pipe, and I then presented them with a gift.
I gave Caitlin a flint blade knife made with mule deer antlers and obsidian. She loves history and the past, and that knife represented her appreciation of those days long gone.
The kids found great meaning in the ceremony, and I'll wager they will remember that day for the rest of their lives. I hope they do the same for their children. Perhaps we have established a new tradition, and hopefully a new legacy.