Wednesday, February 16, 2011

French and Spanish natives???

First, here are your Pueblo tribes, located in New Mexico, they are all interesting, wonderful people. Some also consider the Hopi a pueblo tribe, but they have a distinct separate tribal affiliation and structure. The tribes are: Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Santo Domingo, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Santa Clara, Taos, Tesuque, Ysleta del Sur, Zia, and Zuni. The winner was Jennifer with 10. I have been to the Acoma, Laguna, and Zuni reservations. This spring it is on to Taos!


There is something evident in the Pueblo names, that being the influx of another culture. We all know Natives did not speak Spanish as a first language, yet there are tribal pueblos named things with "San" and "Santa" in their names. Don't be fooled by places with Spanish names when looking for Native locations. There were some cultures that were set on changing names to what was familiar to them, instead of the original place name. The Spanish came in and built missions on the pueblos to give Christianity to the Natives, something they didn't want, but were forced to have. The Spanish then give the missions Spanish names, hence pueblos like Jemez.

When I was little, I grew up in a place that kept the Native names for many places. People who came from somewhere else, especially outside the US, were thoroughly confused by how to pronounce place names like Piscataway, Absecon, Mahwah, Wanaque,
Ho Ho Kus, Watchung, Raritan, Pequannock, Hackensack, Hoboken,and Manalapan. We used to make up stories about how the towns got their names. For instance, two tribes, were having a Scrabble championship. One player needed a high score to beat the Leni Lenape. Another player turned to him and said "Want a Q?", he used the "Q" and won the championship! From then on the town was called Wanaque.

We were kids with a very vivid imagination and silly sense of humor.

But the people of the Eastern Seaboard kept most of the names the Natives used, although I am sure it was a struggle to write and read them. I have read old texts and have seen MANY spellings of Ticonderoga.

The Spanish influenced many southwestern names, changing them to something that made sense in their language, but the other group that was famous for changing names , was the French. They gave us Sioux, Nez Pierce, and almost totally renamed the upper northeast. They also made their way across the upper half of the US, as you can see by the last two names mentioned, and renamed people, tribes, and places. The state of Illinois is a French word, Illinois were a tribe, but they were really named Chictaghiks. The Teuchsagrondie became the Detroit; Adirondacks become Algonkins, now spelled Algonquins. Quatoghe became Hurons; Twihtwies became Miamis; Scunksiks became Terra Rouge. The languages of the northeast are difficult to spell and pronounce so that may have been part of the reason for the changes. They named the five nations of what is the New York state area now, "Iroquois" (they were previously simply known as the Five Nations and were the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas).

Don't mistake names from other languages with the real Native names, they didn't speak French or Spanish, but their own languages. Many do not realize that most tribes, and certainly different Nations, could not understand each other. Some could to a degree. The Algonquin languages of tribes like Narragansett and Pequot could understand each other , and had many words that were the same, but the language in total was different. However, if a Pequot tried to speak to a Hopi, neither would know what the other was saying.

The Native American culture suffers greatly from misconceptions and generalities. Not every tribe lives in tipis or teepees, however you want to spell it. They didn't all hunt buffalo, or wear turquoise. Their rituals were different, and so was their language. I always suggest that if you want to learn about the Native Americans, get ready for a long road, and start with a group or nation. The Cherokee are vastly different from the Navajo, who are different from the Mohawk.
Take the whole piece by piece and watch out for the French and Spanish, they are there ready to trip you up!

Learn, grow, teach.

Peshaui Wequashimese

(C)2011 Triple Moon Goddess Gina May not be used, copied or reproduced without prior written permission.

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