What’s In a Name?
Throughout the readings this week, one of my main focuses became on names. I started to think about what names truly mean; after all, nearly everything in the world has a name-“car” “spatula” “university”-a strong part of every language involves giving names to things.
However, names are so much more than just labels. Names can be a way to not only express meaning, but to express one’s identity, one’s ways of knowing, one’s being. A name can reveal history, culture, even relationships. In fact, the more I think about names, the more complex and overwhelming my understanding of them becomes.
In saying this, this week I want to talk about names in relation to being a treaty person. Vowel’s first chapter discuss a variety of names that have been and are currently used to refer to Canadian First Nation, Metis, and Inuit people. Although there are different names that have been used and changed over the years, the reason some are preferred over others are because of the underlining meanings the names reveal. With this understanding, it is important as a treaty person to not only realize this, but to respect it. I definitely want to expand and grow my understanding of Treaty Education, and based on what I have learned this week, I think applying a more critical understanding to names is an interesting place to explore.
My uncle identifies as a Cree man, and he came up with the name for my sister, Natanis, which means daughter in his Cree dialect. This is a prime example of deeper, personal meanings behind names. Natanis is quite proud of her name and where it comes from, and as her sister I have always felt that her name brought a connection to Cree culture into our lives, and this has helped me understand myself as a treaty person. However, what I did not know until this past week, is that Cree is not even the Indigenous name for that language. This realization really baffled me. I feel that I have a unique appreciation for names, and I that I see an important value in their meaning, so I feel that I have been naive to an entire culture’s identity by not representing their culture in the way they traditionally intended it to be. This idea also connected to Eve Tuck’s tweet about the term “Indigenous.” Ultimately, what I have taken away from this weeks readings and teachings, is that I want continue to analyzing names and the meanings behind them and understand them in a way that is purposeful and meaningful to the names original language and culture.