Archive for the ‘Native American’ Category

National heritage day honors American Indians

November 28, 2008

For the first time, federal legislation has set aside the day after Thanksgiving — for this year only — to honor the contributions American Indians have made to the United States.

Frank Suniga, a descendent of Mescalero Apache Indians who lives in Oregon, said he and others began pushing in 2001 for a national day that recognizes tribal heritage.

By MARY HUDETZ, Associated Press Writer

Suniga, 79, proposed his idea to a cultural committee that is part of the Portland-based Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. The organization took on the cause of a commemorative day, as did the National Congress of American Indians and other groups.

Congress passed legislation this year designating the day as Native American Heritage Day, and President George W. Bush signed it last month.

The measure notes that more Americans Indians than any other group, per capita, serve in the U.S. military. It also cites tribes’ artistic, musical and agricultural contributions.

“The Indians kept the Pilgrims alive with turkeys and wild game,” Suniga said. “That’s the reason it was attached to the Thanksgiving weekend.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081128/ap_on_re_us/american_
indian_day;_ylt=Anwo7bFV6x1AYl8kbiZ7_MSs0NUE

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What’s In A Name (January 1, 2008)

January 1, 2008

By John E. Carey
Updated January 1, 2008

A friend who works near where I work is from India.  His name “Naresh” means King.  He must have very hopeful parents! Koumba is a woman from Africa.  Her name means “First Girl.”

Num Pung means “Honey Bee” in Thailand.  Her mother ate honey comb while pregnant.

Alam is a Bangladeshi name meaning glorious or magnificent. It is usually a boy’s name.

Names fascinate me.  Those from the sphere of the Western European influence frequently choose Bible names or Old English names for their offspring. 

Native American youths earned their names for centuries; or were given meaningful names from tribal lore or from nature’s beauty. 

Many Asians have lyrical, almost poetic names; my wife among them.  She is called Honglien or “Pink Lotus.” By coincidence, my friend from Nepal, Kamala, has the same name: Kamala translates to “Pink Lotus.” 

A comman man’s name in Nepal is “Ram.”  Ram means, “Guard of Hindu.”  WOW!  What a great name!

Other men’s names from Nepal include Mukti (”Freedom”) and Diwakar (”Sun”).

In Vietnam one of my favorite man’s name is “Nghi” (pronounced like “knee”).  It means standing straight and tall, standing at attention or really moral and honest.

Africans often bestow meaningful names upon their children.

One customer of mine is an African named Shaka.  He told me he is named for the greatest warrior of all time: Shaka who united the  Zulu nation in Africa. He said Shaka is viewed and respected for his military adeptness like Attila the Hun or Alexander the Great. 

Islamic people have some wonderful names. Monzer (as with all of our names there are various spellings) means “One Who Warns” or “The Warner.”  It is good to name a little girl baby Rahil, which means “innocent.”

The first thing we have to clarify is this: in our modern world, we tend to lump people and even races into groups like “Native American.” When Columbus arrived in North America there were as many as 500 Tribes; many with languages as different as Chinese is from English. The tribes also had many cultural and religious variations. So as we open this discussion, I penalize myself from the start because I am prone to fall into the trap of lumping people together in huge and unnatural generalities like “all Asians” even though I know that is not correct. I know the Vietnamese are vastly different from the Philipino, for example, even though both are Asians. Even among the Vietnamese there are several “tribes” and cultures.

I have an acquaintence from Thailand named Wantanee.  It means “The Greeter.”   Put your hands together as if in Christian prayer and bow: that’s “The Greeter.”

I have been blessed to know many different people from different parts of the world. Some of my Native American friends, that come from different tribes, have names like “Wild Horse,” “Truth to Tell,” “Comes Killing,” “Soars with Eagles,” and my favorite of all: “Shot-to-Pieces.”

I have been told that many Native American earn their names through some act of bravery or some other memorable event. A young boy that kills a bear might be called “Bear Slayer” for example.

Many who trace their lineage back to Christian European nations might have Bible names. I am named for John the Apostle and we celebrate his Feast Day in the Catholic Calendar on this day. My brothers have old English names: William and Thomas. My sisters also have traditional English names: Pamela and Elizabeth. My cousin is Edward as in Edward the Confessor, I think.

Charles means “manly” or “strong.”  I’ll bet you didn’t know that!

I’ve met many people that think Cynthia is an old English name.  Actually, it comes from Greece.  The meaning of the girl’s name Cynthia is “from Mount Kynthos.” It was one of the names of Artemis, the goddess of the moon, and it refers to her birthplace on Mt. Kynthos.

The name Michael comes from the Hebrew name which means “He Who Is Like God.” Pretty good name. In the Catholic Church, Michael is the number one angel or Archangel. His feast day is September 29, a day he shares with the other top angels: Raphael and Gabriel. Across America many parishes are named for Saint Michael or Raphael or Gabriel.

Michael is a common name in Spanish speaking countries (Miguel), Arabic and even Russian. My name John becomes Juan in Spanish and is also translated into other languages.

Colin means “Victory of the people.”  The name is derived from Greek but became a common name in what is now Britain.  Traditionally the “O” was soft but American’s have taken to say a hard “O” as in Colin Powell.

The Japanese have a lot of terrific names.  Aika means Love Song.  Keiko means Blessed Child.

I am married into a Vietnamese family and each of the Catholic Vietnamese have a Vietnamese name and a Christian name from the Bible. I know a woman named “White Swan” in Vietnamese. Many of the names are terrific!

My wife Lien is also called Mary Magdalene. Mary “M” was a friend of Jesus that may have had a jaded past. I tell people Mary Magdalene “started wrong but finished strong.” Both our parish priests are called John the Baptist. My mother in law is Mary and a Vietnamese friend is Joseph.

But there are some unusual Vietnamese names and this custom spills over into other Asian cultures. The last child of the family might be called “Last One.” I know of a family that has, translated from the native language, a “Last One” and a “Late Mistake.” A particularly tiny Baby might be named “Little Peanut” or something like that.

The Vietnamese name “Hien” means “Gentle.”

I had a Thai friend that swore her father named her “Cucumber” because she was so small and cute.  The Thai name “Wantanee” means “One Who Greets” or “Greeter.”

Another Thai I knew a long time ago was named “Far,” which means sky or more correctly, “clear blue sky.”

Many African and African American names have meaning. A girl named Wangari should know that she has a name from Kenya that means “Leopard.” Mwamba is a Tanzanian name that means “Strong.”

I met a man named Mr. Erhunmwunse on April 2, 2007.  His name means “My Prayers Have Come True” in his native Nigeria!

Ethiopian names are among my favorites: Kalikidan means “promise,” Adonich means “healing,”  Assefa is an Ethiopian name that means “expansive” or “to widen,  “Zelalem” means”Forever” and Lulseged means “King.”

A woman in Ethiopia might be named “Alem.” It means “World.”

The Bangladeshi name “Rowshanara” means “bright” and is my second favorite name from that part of the world after “Amina.”  Amina means “Trusted One.”

Rowshanara is actually the Persian or Farsi word meaning bright — even though the Rowshanara I know is from Bangladesh.

Amin being the root word for “trust.”  Amina is also a common name in Nepal.

Another great Bangladeshi name for a woman is Farida.  Farida means “Unique.”  Another man’s name is “Sariful” which means “Modest.”

Let’s get back to Rowshanara.  My favorite Rowshanara works in a 7-11 near my house.  She is short and thin and “bright” and very beautiful.

This past Sunday I stopped for milk at the 7-11 and found Rowshanara trapped in the refrigerated food case.  Instead of refilling the case from behind, she opened the front door for a front fill.  She is so small that she needed to stand on the bottom shelf.  She is so thin that the glass door closed!

I knocked on the glass door and said, “So this is what a refrigerated Bangladeshi Rowshanara looks like!”

I freed her and she couldn’t stop laughing!

“Jali” is a Bangladeshi name that means “happy thing.” Not a bad name!

Many Indian words have made it to the regular English vocabulary. Most of them were added during the British imperialistic rule over India from spanning from 16th to 20th century. More than five hundred words of Indian origin were absorbed into English during that period and it has grown ever since.

Currently the Oxford English Dictionary lists over 700 words of Indian origin.

Rowshanara’s boss at the 7-11 has an Indian name that translates into “Happiness.”

Names come and go and what is popular today will undoubtedly be passe a few years from now. Sarah Womack wrote in the (London) Telegraph on December 21, 2006, that “Mohammed, and its most common alternative spelling Muhammad, are now more popular babies’ names in England and Wales than George, reflecting the diverse ethnic mix of the population. “

She continues, “Spelled Muhammad, it is the 44th most popular name and enters the top 50 for the first time along with Noah, Oscar, Lucas and Rhys. “

Rhys? I must be getting old.

My purpose here is only to interest the uninitiated in the vast world of names with meaning. Do a word search for your name or the names of your friends and you might be surprised.

Part of the richness of any culture is its language and one facet of the many sided jewel that is language is the vast array of names parents bestow upon their children.
*******

The article above has been updated many, many times.  Although we continue to learn the meaning of new names, we have finally “locked” “What’s in a Name.”

from Thailand:
“Kanalya” means “Subdued, Cool, or Behaving with Style.”

From India:
“Rohini” is a woman’s name meaning “lightening!”
“Igin” means “Sunshine.”
“Dipti” is a woman’s name meaning “source of light.”

From Arabic (He grew up in Kuwait)
“Mahmood” means “gifted.”

From Ethiopia:
Yework Wuha means “Gold Water” or “Liquid Gold.”
Sehay means “Sunshine.”
Tewodros means “Gift of God.”
Genet means “Heaven.”
Almaz means “Diamond.”
Negussie means “King.”

From Nepal:
Jay means “Victory.”
Surya means “Sun.”

Afghanistan:
“Azim” means “The Greatest.”
“Habib” means “Beloved.”
“Wahid” means “Unique.”
“Karim” means “Kind.”

From Korea:
my neighbor’s name is “Oh So Young.”

Bangladesh:
“Nahida” means “Ali’s Power.”

Visit us also at:
http://extendedremarks.blogspot.com/
and
http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/

Please send feedback to me at:
jecarey2603@cox.net

What are we Americans really made of?

August 7, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 7, 2007

 A bridge collapses into the Mississippi River, bringing death to the households of average Americans including a Native American and a Mexican immigrant.

A hurricane ravages a major American city, killing many and leaving scores homeless and without jobs.

Islamic extremists attack symbols of the United States’ economic and military power: the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon.

And how have we Americans responded to these crises?

Here is how noted American Psychologist Elizabeth Carll, Ph.D., reflected upon 9-11.

Dr. Carll is a clinical and consulting psychologist in private practice in Long Island, New York and the author of “Violence in Our Lives: Impact on Workplace, Home, and Community.”

“It was a few minutes before 9 AM on September 11, 2001, and like many typical days I was in my office returning calls and completing paperwork prior to the arrival of my 10 AM patient, when I received a call from my husband informing me that a airplane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center (WTC). While he was describing the incident to me, he saw on TV the live newscast of the second airliner crashing into the other tower. At this point we both realized the horrible implications of this disaster. Within minutes all television networks were reporting the shocking breaking news. When I conceived and established the New York State Psychological Association Disaster/Crisis Response Network in 1990, I had no idea that we would be responding to such a terrible tragedy on our own home grounds, but felt gratified that we had a database of over 250 trained psychologists in NY State alone to respond to this tragedy…..”

“Therapy sessions were punctuated by calls from other therapists for advice, consulting, and support.”

Just a note of shocking news to Americans. This is not for everybody but to those who leap toward therapy, drugs and the help of others when a crisis strikes: not everyone in the world responds this way. Not everyone has that luxury.

When the City of Saigon was invaded by communists in 1975, and the entire nation of the Republic of South Vietnam disappeared from the map in favor of a communist suppressor from the North; there were no therapists for the people.

After Saigon fell to the Communists and was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, after the Communist war lord in 1975, several human rights abuses quickly became apparent. In Communist Vietnam, the rules changed to the will of the Communist party leaders and the abuses included and today include:

–Systematic abuse and imprisonment of any and all people who assisted in the war effort against the Communists or who helped the Americans in any way. The most infamous aspect of these “Trai Cai Tao” or remote jungle or highland “re-education centers” were periods of detention normally from seven to almost twenty years. My Bac or Uncle Chi was in this system for 8 years. But I do know of cases where intelligence officers or others with special skills were in prison for 17 years.

–Leaving Vietnam became a crime. Many of the “Boat People” who escaped did so after being caught trying to escape and suffering through prison terms for their “crimes” several times. I have one friend who went through this system at least 9 times. My wife went through three or four times.

–Life as a refugee was no picnic. Many of those that successfully survived their time at sea (and many starved to death, drown, or were raped and tortured by pirates) reached places like Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines. They were refugees with hopes of reaching western lands like Canada, Norway, Australia, the United States and other nations. In Hong Kong women of child bearing age we sterilized so they would not add to the crush of largely unwanted refugees. My wife spent 8 years “detained” in Palawan, the Philippines. She lived in a hut with about 40 other men, women and children. Her cousin was in the Philippines for 16 years awaiting permission to legally enter the U.S. They were awaiting permission to emigrate to America. And there we no “illegal aliens” in this group: you cannot walk from Asia to the United States.

–Loss of all privacy. In Vietnam, neighbors were encouraged to all the police if they noticed anything “unusual” about you or your household.

–Denial of religious freedom. In fact, Catholics were forced to renounce their faith in writing in communist Vietnam.

–Denial of freedom of speech and expression. All media was taken over by the communist machine.–Systematic repression and in some cases genocide against the ethnic minorities that had assisted the Americans. These included the tribal peoples of the Khmer Krom, Montagnards, Hmong Lao, and the Khmer Rouge.

–Unlawful imprisonment. Anyone, at any time, whoever angers the leadership of the Vietnamese Communists becomes subject to unlawful imprisonment. This continues today. An American citizen, Mrs. Cuc Foshee, is such an example. In the autumn of 2006 she was released from prison after 14 months held without charges by the communist government of Vietnam.

I would submit humbly that this experience of an entire nation, an entire people, was a traumatic crisis.Certainly American clinicians would mandate extensive therapy, groups sessions, perhaps a drug regime and other forms of care.

None of that was forthcoming to the people of the former South Vietnam.

What did the former “South Vietnamese” do?

Those that chose to leave rather than live under the communist regime, decided they had to endure any sacrifice or pain in order to achieve the goal of freedom.

“We endured. We lived. We became refugees. We continued to seek our goal: freedom in the United States. And when we got here we got jobs, we applied for citizenship,” said one of my wife’s uncles to me when I asked. He had been an Ambassador to two nations: Germany and Australia. When he got to America he got a job in the construction trades and hauled sheet rock.

I have a friend that was a high ranking and esteemed Naval Officer who commanded six ships in the service of South Vietnam. When he came to America he became a school teacher.

No complaints. I have never heard a single complaint from any of the Vietnamese I know.

“We had no time to worry, complain or seek therapy because we went to work rebuilding our lives,” a Vietnamese friend told me.

That quote is from a Vietnamese “survivor” I know. But I heard almost the same quote from a man near New Orleans who went through Hurricane Camille (1969) as a young man and Hurricane Katrina just recently. He said, “My Dad, my brothers and I rebuilt. What else can you do? We had no time for therapy because we were rebuilding and you know what?  We all turned out fine!”

So I asked my Vietnamese friend, “And why are the bookshelves and movie theaters not full of your stories of endurance, self sacrifice and survival.” I am so naïve.

The answer surprised me: “Because we all have the same story. There are millions of stories. And ask any refugee.  Ask the Iraqi refugees. Nobody interested in their stories. Americans want a spy movie or a car chase. Nothing sexy about the experience of refugee.”

My wife still calls her Vietnamese contemporaries “Survivors.” Those at church, the shopping mall, and other places are called not “Other Vietnamese” or “Vietnamese Americans.” She often, if not always, says “Survivor.”

So this is an observation of two cultures and not meant as a criticism of anyone.  And I do believe in therapy and the proper treatement of PTSD (which I wrote a six part series on).  I just think many Americans have lost their way: partly because they have so much money, time, so many blessings, and so few bedevilments that cause them to sacrifice.

If you never sacrifice, a long line at the supermarket is burdonsome.  Nothing seems to bother my Vietnamese frieds.  They are just happy to be “Survivors.”

Many Americans believe other people can cure you. Not God and not your own inner strength and fortitude. Many believe and seek “rehab” before adjustment, adaptation and a peaceful mind. Many praise at the altars of the wrong gods: “sex, drugs and rock and roll.” We watch glued to TV screens watching Paris Hilton make a train wreck of her life and a mockery of the court.

The Vietnamese I know don’t watch. “She seeking wrong happy. She never be happy that way,” one told me.

So when I heard on TV a woman in Minneapolis say, “When you give up hope, you give up life,” my Vietnamese friends and relatives sprang into my mind.

We Americans are engaged in a great world-wide geopolitical struggle. Yet many of us have become a pampered people of shoppers and spenders.

The NBC TODAY show had one of those invaluable “news” reports I relish, on August 6, 2007.

The topic was SPAs.

Here is the intro to the piece on the NBC TODAY Show web page complete with their own misuse of the word “their”:

“Imagine a week of facials, massages, gourmet meals, hikes, and Pilates classes. Sounds like a great way to spend the last days of summer, right? That’s the sound of a SPA getaway.”

“‘Vacation’ usually means hustling to catch planes, hassling with rental cars, and then squeezing in friends, family, and of course all the major sites. That’s why destination spas make so much sense. According to SPA Finder Inc., there [sic] database counts more than 15,000 spas in the United States.”

15,000 SPAs? That sounds like an extravagance to me.

Until you consider we have over 10,000 high end coffee houses in the U.S. And they are already springing up in places like China.

Many Americans will spend thousands of dollars on themselves in SPAs, hair salons and nail shops. Then on the way home they’ll buy a cappuccino for something going toward $5.00.

I am proud to say I don’t go to a “hair stylist.” Instead I make a small donation to Pete the immigrant barber and he does the job for less than $10.00.  No $400.00 “Style job” (or whatever it is called) for me.

John Edwards: eat your heart out.

The bottom line is this: many Americans will pay whatever it takes to achieve their own few minutes of mental bliss.  Because they have so much money spending it on self centered wasteful things seems OK to them.  God Bless ‘em too!

But ask some of us to really make a real sacrifice; and you may get that “deer in the headlights” stare.

I saw an Army G.I. interviewed on TV a few days ago. He reminded watchers that only about 1% of the U.S. population was involved in the war on terror, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said many Americans slapped an “I support the troops” bumper sticker on their car and they were finished with the problem.

The question is, “Can the people of so many spas, so much pampering and so much luxury prevail in a real terrorized world? Will Americans retreat into themselves?”

The terrorists think the answer is an unqualified “yes.”  Your average Muslim extremists thinks your average American is too pampered and too spoiled and ready for a fall.

So I wonder sometimes: will the people of the United States ever again be able to achieve the likes of the landings on D-Day? Can present day America defeat a tyrant like Hitler? Do we have engineering successes in our future to rival man walking on the moon?

I am usually an optimist.

But the two most recent examples of “The Right Stuff” included a half-crazed astronaut wearing a diaper on her way to kill what she thought was her man’s girlfriend with a BB gun. The other was a report of drunken astronauts in space and in aircraft.

Are these folks too spoiled?  Lost their way?  The terrorists are heartened by stories and people such as these.

When I heard a pundit say what a hard and long “struggle” it would be to replace the Interstate 35W bridge which collapsed, I nearly gagged. We should be able to rebuild that bridge better and stronger in no time. Now I’ve learned that is what the people of Minnesota intend. Bravo!

And I heard a news reader bemoaning “the decaying infrastructure in America.” I thought: we better get on with it and do it right.

We, as a nation, had better take on some of the tough issues facing us like illegal immigration, the war against terror and the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We better not allow our pampered opulence and small tolerance of sacrifice to allow our nation to decay. If we do our grandchildren need to start learning Chinese at an early age.

And if we lose hope we give up on life.  And our way of life.
**************************************

Notes:

Several factors came together to cause me to think about and write this essay.

First among them was Senator Harry Reid, saying, while America has troops engaged in the field at war, that the U.S. had already “lost” the war.  This I find this a very dangerous pronouncement that emboldens the enemy and increases the danger to our troops.

Newt Gingrich also impacted my thought.  He made these comments to the news media:

“So my first advice to the president was, ‘Don’t say anything anymore. Keep quiet.’ Let General [David] Petraeus and [Iraq] Ambassador [Ryan] Crocker speak for the country.’

“And then the Democrats in Congress have to decide are General Clinton and General Reid and General Pelosi really more knowledgeable than General Petraeus.

“It’s very hard to go to the country and say I’m going to abandon the Americans in Iraq. It’s very easy to go to the country and say George W. Bush is wrong.”

“None of you should believe we are winning this war. There is no evidence that we are winning this war,” the ex-Georgian told a group of about 300 students attending a conference for collegiate conservatives on August 2, 2007.

Mr. Gingrich said the proper thing to do is to share the burden of Iraq with Democrats.

Mr. Gingrich’s statements, in my view, are right on target.

Then there are some comments made by the Editorial Page Editor of the Washington Times, Mr. Tony Blankley.

Mr. Blankley said the real possibility of a chemical, biological and even nuclear device being detonated in a major American city is further maximized by the unwillingness of many Bush administration critics to appreciate the dangers associated with the rise of radical Islam. He made the statement during the 29th Young America’s Foundation National Conservative Student Conference.

Finally: an essay entitled “The Can’t-Do Nation” and written by John McQuaid appeared in The Washington Post on Sunday, August 5, 2007.  John was wondering some of the same thought I have been having. He writes as part of his essay: “The United States seems to have become the superpower that can’t tie its own shoelaces.”

Read it all:
The Can’t-Do Nation

I was also moved by Mr. William Murchison who wrote a column I renamed.  He complains that he cannot stay awake watching the likes of Hillary, Barak, McCain and the others.  I think maybe 90% of Americans agree with him.  I think we are on the wrong track…..and I don’t see any smart train engineers in the field!

Read it all at:

Presidential Politics: Are You Still Awake?

Two great essays:
Today’s Complaint: I hate Complainers

Our series on PTSD:

War Wounds of The Mind Part I: Historical Perspective on PTSD

War Wounds Of The Mind Part II: Discussions With PTSD Sufferers

War Wounds of the Mind Part III: The Commanders

War Wounds of The Mind Part IV: A Warning About Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

 In God’s Hands Now: The Passing of a Stateless Soldier and a Good Man

War: Changing Lives in an Instant: Bob Woodruff and Mike Who Has PTSD

War Wounds of the Mind Part VI: Half of Soldiers, Marines Returning With PTSD — Red Alert

What’s In A Name

July 13, 2007

By John E. Carey
Updated January 1, 2008

A friend who works near where I work is from India.  His name “Naresh” means King.  He must have very hopeful parents! Koumba is a woman from Africa.  Her name means “First Girl.”

Num Pung means “Honey Bee” in Thailand.  Her mother ate honey comb while pregnant.

Alam is a Bangladeshi name meaning glorious or magnificent. It is usually a boy’s name.

Names fascinate me.  Those from the sphere of the Western European influence frequently choose Bible names or Old English names for their offspring. 

Native American youths earned their names for centuries; or were given meaningful names from tribal lore or from nature’s beauty. 

Many Asians have lyrical, almost poetic names; my wife among them.  She is called Honglien or “Pink Lotus.” By coincidence, my friend from Nepal, Kamala, has the same name: Kamala translates to “Pink Lotus.” 

A comman man’s name in Nepal is “Ram.”  Ram means, “Guard of Hindu.”  WOW!  What a great name!

Other men’s names from Nepal include Mukti (”Freedom”) and Diwakar (”Sun”).

In Vietnam one of my favorite man’s name is “Nghi” (pronounced like “knee”).  It means standing straight and tall, standing at attention or really moral and honest.

Africans often bestow meaningful names upon their children.

One customer of mine is an African named Shaka.  He told me he is named for the greatest warrior of all time: Shaka who united the  Zulu nation in Africa. He said Shaka is viewed and respected for his military adeptness like Attila the Hun or Alexander the Great. 

Islamic people have some wonderful names. Monzer (as with all of our names there are various spellings) means “One Who Warns” or “The Warner.”  It is good to name a little girl baby Rahil, which means “innocent.”

The first thing we have to clarify is this: in our modern world, we tend to lump people and even races into groups like “Native American.” When Columbus arrived in North America there were as many as 500 Tribes; many with languages as different as Chinese is from English. The tribes also had many cultural and religious variations. So as we open this discussion, I penalize myself from the start because I am prone to fall into the trap of lumping people together in huge and unnatural generalities like “all Asians” even though I know that is not correct. I know the Vietnamese are vastly different from the Philipino, for example, even though both are Asians. Even among the Vietnamese there are several “tribes” and cultures.

I have an acquaintence from Thailand named Wantanee.  It means “The Greeter.”   Put your hands together as if in Christian prayer and bow: that’s “The Greeter.”

I have been blessed to know many different people from different parts of the world. Some of my Native American friends, that come from different tribes, have names like “Wild Horse,” “Truth to Tell,” “Comes Killing,” “Soars with Eagles,” and my favorite of all: “Shot-to-Pieces.”

I have been told that many Native American earn their names through some act of bravery or some other memorable event. A young boy that kills a bear might be called “Bear Slayer” for example.

Many who trace their lineage back to Christian European nations might have Bible names. I am named for John the Apostle and we celebrate his Feast Day in the Catholic Calendar on this day. My brothers have old English names: William and Thomas. My sisters also have traditional English names: Pamela and Elizabeth. My cousin is Edward as in Edward the Confessor, I think.

Charles means “manly” or “strong.”  I’ll bet you didn’t know that!

I’ve met many people that think Cynthia is an old English name.  Actually, it comes from Greece.  The meaning of the girl’s name Cynthia is “from Mount Kynthos.” It was one of the names of Artemis, the goddess of the moon, and it refers to her birthplace on Mt. Kynthos.

The name Michael comes from the Hebrew name which means “He Who Is Like God.” Pretty good name. In the Catholic Church, Michael is the number one angel or Archangel. His feast day is September 29, a day he shares with the other top angels: Raphael and Gabriel. Across America many parishes are named for Saint Michael or Raphael or Gabriel.

Michael is a common name in Spanish speaking countries (Miguel), Arabic and even Russian. My name John becomes Juan in Spanish and is also translated into other languages.

Colin means “Victory of the people.”  The name is derived from Greek but became a common name in what is now Britain.  Traditionally the “O” was soft but American’s have taken to say a hard “O” as in Colin Powell.

The Japanese have a lot of terrific names.  Aika means Love Song.  Keiko means Blessed Child.

I am married into a Vietnamese family and each of the Catholic Vietnamese have a Vietnamese name and a Christian name from the Bible. I know a woman named “White Swan” in Vietnamese. Many of the names are terrific!

My wife Lien is also called Mary Magdalene. Mary “M” was a friend of Jesus that may have had a jaded past. I tell people Mary Magdalene “started wrong but finished strong.” Both our parish priests are called John the Baptist. My mother in law is Mary and a Vietnamese friend is Joseph.

But there are some unusual Vietnamese names and this custom spills over into other Asian cultures. The last child of the family might be called “Last One.” I know of a family that has, translated from the native language, a “Last One” and a “Late Mistake.” A particularly tiny Baby might be named “Little Peanut” or something like that.

The Vietnamese name “Hien” means “Gentle.”

I had a Thai friend that swore her father named her “Cucumber” because she was so small and cute.  The Thai name “Wantanee” means “One Who Greets” or “Greeter.”

Another Thai I knew a long time ago was named “Far,” which means sky or more correctly, “clear blue sky.”

Many African and African American names have meaning. A girl named Wangari should know that she has a name from Kenya that means “Leopard.” Mwamba is a Tanzanian name that means “Strong.”

I met a man named Mr. Erhunmwunse on April 2, 2007.  His name means “My Prayers Have Come True” in his native Nigeria!

Ethiopian names are among my favorites: Kalikidan means “promise,” Adonich means “healing,”  Assefa is an Ethiopian name that means “expansive” or “to widen,  “Zelalem” means”Forever” and Lulseged means “King.”

A woman in Ethiopia might be named “Alem.” It means “World.”

The Bangladeshi name “Rowshanara” means “bright” and is my second favorite name from that part of the world after “Amina.”  Amina means “Trusted One.”

Rowshanara is actually the Persian or Farsi word meaning bright — even though the Rowshanara I know is from Bangladesh.

Amin being the root word for “trust.”  Amina is also a common name in Nepal.

Another great Bangladeshi name for a woman is Farida.  Farida means “Unique.”  Another man’s name is “Sariful” which means “Modest.”

Let’s get back to Rowshanara.  My favorite Rowshanara works in a 7-11 near my house.  She is short and thin and “bright” and very beautiful.

This past Sunday I stopped for milk at the 7-11 and found Rowshanara trapped in the refrigerated food case.  Instead of refilling the case from behind, she opened the front door for a front fill.  She is so small that she needed to stand on the bottom shelf.  She is so thin that the glass door closed!

I knocked on the glass door and said, “So this is what a refrigerated Bangladeshi Rowshanara looks like!”

I freed her and she couldn’t stop laughing!

“Jali” is a Bangladeshi name that means “happy thing.” Not a bad name!

Many Indian words have made it to the regular English vocabulary. Most of them were added during the British imperialistic rule over India from spanning from 16th to 20th century. More than five hundred words of Indian origin were absorbed into English during that period and it has grown ever since.

Currently the Oxford English Dictionary lists over 700 words of Indian origin.

Rowshanara’s boss at the 7-11 has an Indian name that translates into “Happiness.”

Names come and go and what is popular today will undoubtedly be passe a few years from now. Sarah Womack wrote in the (London) Telegraph on December 21, 2006, that “Mohammed, and its most common alternative spelling Muhammad, are now more popular babies’ names in England and Wales than George, reflecting the diverse ethnic mix of the population. “

She continues, “Spelled Muhammad, it is the 44th most popular name and enters the top 50 for the first time along with Noah, Oscar, Lucas and Rhys. “

Rhys? I must be getting old.

My purpose here is only to interest the uninitiated in the vast world of names with meaning. Do a word search for your name or the names of your friends and you might be surprised.

Part of the richness of any culture is its language and one facet of the many sided jewel that is language is the vast array of names parents bestow upon their children.
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The article above has been updated many, many times.  Although we continue to learn the meaning of new names, we have finally “locked” “What’s in a Name.”

From India:
“Igin” means “Sunshine.”
“Dipti” is a woman’s name meaning “source of light.”

From Arabic (He grew up in Kuwait)
“Mahmood” means “gifted.”

From Ethiopia:
Yework Wuha means “Gold Water” or “Liquid Gold.”
Sehay means “Sunshine.”
Tewodros means “Gift of God.”
Genet means “Heaven.”
Almaz means “Diamond.”
Negussie means “King.”

From Nepal:
Jay means “Victory.”
Surya means “Sun.”

Afghanistan:
“Azim” means “The Greatest.”
“Habib” means “Beloved.”
“Wahid” means “Unique.”

From Korea:
my neighbor’s name is “Oh So Young.”

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