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Native American Baby Names of the Southwest (Apache, Hopi, Navajo)

I was raised in the mountains of Southwest Arizona. An avid reader, I consumed dozens of books on fascinating Native American cultures.

In Navajo, the lovely name "Tahoma" means "water's edge."

In Navajo, the lovely name "Tahoma" means "water's edge."

Baby Names From the Tribes of the Southwest: Apache, Hopi, and Navajo

Searching for the perfect name for your baby? Consider something special to honor the timeless traditions of the land in which you live.

The Native American tribes of the Southwestern United States have many wonderful qualities: the Apache, Hopi, and Navajo nations are fierce, peaceful, spiritual, and respectful. Their families, whom they deeply cherish, are their entire world. The Native American people are skilled artisans, warriors, hunters, architects, and agriculturalists. These special cultures are one with nature.

Can These Native American Baby Names Be Gender Fluid?

With a few exceptions, many of these baby names are considered unisex or gender-fluid. Although naming rituals varied widely between tribes, Native American cultures place great emphasis on naming their child based on physical attributes, elements of nature, and totems.

Although much of the true Native American history was either lost, not recorded, or simply erased and changed by colonialist historians and religious figures, passages can still be found referencing non-binary gender identities. In recent times, these special people are referred to as “two-spirit” or “third-gender.”

The Apache Nation

The semi-nomadic people known as the Apache, one of the fiercest Native American cultures in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, are believed to have migrated from the far north (near the Arctic in Alaska and Canada) around 1,000 AD.

The Apache are divided by the Rio Grande River into the Eastern tribes (Kiowa, Lipan, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Chiricahua), and the Western tribes (Mimbreño, Coyotero, Cibecue, and Northern and Southern Tonto or Mogollon Apache). Apache life was centered around the buffalo, and they were one of the first Native American cultures to learn to ride horses. Both men and women hold important roles in this matrilineal nation.

In Apache, the noble name "Nantan Lupan" means "grey wolf".

In Apache, the noble name "Nantan Lupan" means "grey wolf".

Apache Baby Girl Names

Ekta

Meaning: “unity.”

Ela

Meaning: “earth.”

Kushala

Meaning: “safe.”

Liluye

Meaning: “hawk singing.”

Nalin

Meaning: “maiden.”

Nascha

Meaning: “owl.”

Onawa

Meaning: “wide awake.”

Sons-ee-ah-ray

Meaning: “morning star.”

Apache Baby Boy Names

Bodaway

Meaning: “firemaker.”

Cassadore

Meaning: “warrior and chief.”

Eknath

Meaning: “poet.”

Elan

Meaning: "friendly."

Illanipi

Meaning: "amazing."

Kuruk

Meaning: "bear."

Naiche

Meaning: "mischief maker."

Nantan Lupan

Meaning: "grey wolf."

Tarak

Meaning: "star."

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The Hopi Nation

The Hopi people are one of the oldest cultures in the world, dating back to around 500 AD. Primarily based in Arizona, the Hopi are famous for their agricultural knowledge and wisdom and for having lived on the same land for thousands of years.

The Hopi tribe is profoundly spiritual and peaceful—in fact, the name “Hopi” translates to “the peaceful ones”. The farmers lived in adobe pueblo villages and are still known today for their incredible craftsmanship in pottery, weaving, silverwork, and carving. The Hopi nation followed matrilineal traditions.

In Hopi, the lyrical name "Chosovi" means "bluebird".

In Hopi, the lyrical name "Chosovi" means "bluebird".

Hopi Baby Girl Names

Cha'risa

Meaning: "moose; elk."

Chosovi

Meaning: "bluebird."

Chu'si

Meaning: "snake flower."

Civanka

Meaning: "the one who writes blossoms."

Hakidonmuya

Meaning: "when the moon is rising."

Honovi

Meaning: "strong deer."

Lomasi

Meaning: "good/beautiful flower.”

Muna

Meaning: "spring."

Sipala

Meaning: "peach."

Talasi

Meaning: "cornflower."

Tiva

Meaning: "dance.”

Yoki

Meaning: "rain."

Hopi Baby Boy Names

Atoko

Meaning: "crane."

Choro

Meaning: "bluebird."

Hongvi

Meaning: "strong."

Kele

Meaning: "sparrow."

Lansa

Meaning: "spear."

Lapu

Meaning: "cedar bark."

Len

Meaning: "flute."

Makya

Meaning: "hunting eagle."

Moki

Meaning: "deer."

Tokori

Meaning: "screech owl."

The Navajo (Diné) Nation

The Navajo people lived in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, after having migrated from the far north in approximately 1,000 AD. The Navajo culture, also known as Diné, were semi-nomadic hunter-farmers.

With over 400,000 members as of 2021, the Navajo are believed to be the most populous Native American culture in the United States. Known for their skilled rug weaving and fine silversmith work, Navajo also often hold ceremonies that include songs, dancing, sand painting, and stories. Like many Native American nations, the Navajo traditions are matrilineal, and both women and men play essential roles in everyday life.

In Navajo, the short but sweet name "Kai" means "willow tree."

In Navajo, the short but sweet name "Kai" means "willow tree."

Ajei

Meaning: “my heart.”

Chooli

Meaning: “mountain.”

Doli

Meaning: “bluebird.”

Haseya

Meaning: “she rises.”

Kai

Meaning: “willow tree.”

Lina

Meaning: “life.”

Johona

Meaning: “sunny.”

Mai

Meaning: “bright flower.”

Mosi

Meaning: “cat.”

Nascha

Meaning: “owl.”

Tsintah

Meaning: “among the forest.”

Yanaha

Meaning: “brave.”

Ashkii

Meaning: “boy.”

Atsa

Meaning: “eagle.”

Hok’ee

Meaning: “high-backed wolf.”

Niyol

Meaning: “wind.”

Sani

Meaning: “old one.”

Shandiin

Meaning: “sunshine.”

Shilah

Meaning: “brother.”

Tahoma

Meaning: “water’s edge.”

Tsela

Meaning: “stars lying down.”

In Navajo, the name "Atsa" is the name for a majestic eagle.

In Navajo, the name "Atsa" is the name for a majestic eagle.

© 2022 Jasmine Hanner

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