Monday, April 13, 2009

What's In A Name?

An Idiot, By Any Other Name

Would still be a stupid asshole.

The comments were part of an exchange with Ramey Ko, a representative of the Organization of Chinese Americans, during a hearing Tuesday by the House Elections Committee.

Ko told the committee that people of Asian descent have problems voting because they may have legal transliterated names as well as common English names on their drivers licenses or other forms of identification. Brown asked whether Asian-Americans could "adopt" names that "we could deal with more readily here."

Even taken in the context of State Legislatures, or in the context of Texas dumbass, this is incredible.

There I was, flying high. I've completed the run of "Godspell" with great success. The producers loved my ass, the director was effusive in his praise, the band dug working with me, even the cast was appreciative of the work I did.

Best news of all, as I get ready to enter another bit of blogging silence, my daughter who is no longer going to be Medskool Girl, but my daughter, the doctor. Called to tell me that on her medical license, and on her diploma, she will be listed by her Apache name.

Ga'age Biittsaakesh (gah-ageh beet zah kesh)
Raven, daughter of the Snake.

Thank goodness my cousin, the brilliant attorney is on hand to make everything OkieDokie with the White record keepers.

See, just like the Asian Americans, we Apache have gone round and round with the dominant society about the way our names work. It's not unusual for us to regularly use five or six names. It works like this.

Medicine Name:

This is the name that is used in council, or in official society. It is the name used when performing ceremony.

Warrior Name:

Given by one's warrior society. It can change as one matures and gains a reputation. I started out as a soldier in the Cloud Society like most young kids. When I was initiated I was called alch iseh dii'i dits'agh (allch eeseh deee ee deets ahhg) or "little four times tough." I wasn't a big kid, but I loved a good scrap and I didn't have much back down in my make up. When I came back from Viet Nam I was initiated in the the Raven Society and was given the name hiidloh gonalkaih (heed low gone all kaeyeh) or, "laughs in battle." When folks talk about me as a Cloud Soldier, they use my Cloud name, as a Raven, and a proven warrior, they use my Raven's name.

Family Name:

What your family calls you of course.

Enemy Name:

I don't know if I ever got one of these. This is something that only the greatest warriors achieve. The enemy gives you a name. In the Zuni langauge, "Apache" means "the enemy." We would show up at a Zuni ville, and everybody would start shouting "Apache! Apache!" We deduced that they were talking about us, thought it sounded cool and that became the name of our people. Geronimo got his name from the Mexicans, as did Mangas Coloradas (Red Cape or cloak). Getting an enemy name is big medicine.

Sacred Name:

This is a private, very personal name. It is usually given by a holy one. It is only spoken aloud once. Never again. It is used in silent, and personal prayer.

So, now imagine yourself, a low level army pencil pusher. You're stuck out in the middle of nowhere at the end of the Apache Wars. You have this big line of pissed off Indians that you're trying to get written down on the lists to be sent to Washington. This Indian stands in front of you and you ask "Name?" He starts reeling off all these names you can't comprehend, and even if somebody spoke Apache to translate you probably wouldn't understand the nuance and levels of meaning anyway. If you were that smart and intuitive you would not be pushing pencils in the middle of godforsaken ass nowhere.

Just like they did with the Lakotah, the Comanche, the Kiowa, the Navajo, you make yourself up a fucking name and you write it down.

We have some creative family names on the rez. We have the Peaches, the Whiskey, the Chaw, the Barefoot, the Skinnies, you get the idea.

Confronted with that, we simply created another naming class and convention.

White Name:

What some poor ass soldier called your grandpa.

I'm picking my Harpergirl, her hubby, and her new baby up at the airport tomorrow morning and we're going to Tucson.

It's going to be a great week.

Join me in welcoming Dr. Ga'age Biittsaakesh M fuckin' D

State Representative Betty Brown on our rez would probably be given the medicine name of:

Bi'eh Besh

Nose Picker.