Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico

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the possession of a name [says Swanton] was everywhere jealously guarded, and it was considered discourteous or even insulting to address one directly by it. This reticence, on the part of some Indians at least, appears to have been due to the fact that every man, and every thing as well, was supposed to have a real name which so perfectly expressed his inmost nature as to be practically identical with him. This name might long remain unknown to all, even to its owner, but at some critical period in life it was confidentially revealed to him [in a vision]. It was largely on account of this sacred character that an Indian commonly refused to give his proper designation, or, when pressed for an answer, asked someone else to speak it. . . . Names could often be loaned, pawned, or even given or thrown away outright; on the other hand, they might be adopted out of revenge without the consent of the owner.1

The Indian [says Mooney] regards his name, not as a mere label, but as a distinct part of his personality, just as much as are his eyes or his teeth, and believes that injury will result as surely from the malicious handling of his name as from a wound inflicted on any part of his physical organism. This belief was found among the various tribes from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and has occasioned a number of curious regulations in regard to the concealment and change of names. It may be on this account that both Powhatan and Pocahontas are known in history under assumed appellations, their true names having been concealed from the whites until the pseudonyms were too firmly established to be supplanted. Should his prayers have no apparent effect when treating a patient for some serious illness, the shaman sometimes concludes that the name is affected, and accordingly goes to water, with appropriate ceremonies, and christens the patient with a new name, by which he is henceforth to be known. He then begins afresh, repeating the formulas with the new name selected for the patient, in the confident hope that his efforts will be crowned with success.2

1Swanton, J.R.n/an/an/an/a, "Names and Naming," in Hodge, F. W., (Bur. Amer. Ethnol., Bull. 30, rearranged).

2 Mooney, J., "The Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees," Bur. Amer Ethnol., Ann. Rep., 7: 343.

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Chicago: Hodge, F. W., ed., "Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico," Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed May 25, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=88ZN9MMYJ8QX92L.

MLA: . "Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico." Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, edited by Hodge, F. W., in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 25 May. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=88ZN9MMYJ8QX92L.

Harvard: (ed.), 'Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico' in Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 25 May 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=88ZN9MMYJ8QX92L.