Friday, July 02, 2010

Gary's last name -- call for help

Gary is still debating what he wants to do about his last name. He is thinking about taking our last name, but still isn't quite ready for that. We had previously explored the idea of finding a name that honored his American Indian heritage. He doesn't know anything about it. All his mother told him is that his genetic father was Blackfoot. Of course that is a nation with more than one tribe and more than one language.

Last night I shared an idea with him. Our family name is means "night watchman." It is a occupation name. In the distant past, my husband's ancestors spent their nights walking the town ready to wake everyone up if there was a fire, or whatever. Anyway, I ask Gary what he thought about trying to find a Blackfoot word that meant something like "night watchman." It doesn't have to be that exactly. A word meaning "sentry" or "guard" would be fine. He liked it.

The problem though is obvious. Though we have found internet sites with lists of words, none of them are what we are looking for. And we would very much prefer to talk to someone who has some expert knowledge of the language.

So, anyone out there have any resources? How do we find someone who actually knows something about one or more Blackfoot languages who can help us?


  1. I can't help but I have to say what a COOL idea this is. It is such a beautiful way to tie your family and his heritage together. Way neat!

  2. Maybe make a phone call to the National Museum of the American Indian in DC. I feel like they have to have some one on staff they could refer you to.

  3. try this site
    When I have tribal kids I track down the tribe newspaper and they are always happy to send it, even if they aren't members and live across the country

  4. Hey - university professor! Google a professor of native american studies/history and call and ask for direction.

    At my alma mater, if you called the PR office of the university with a question or looking for an "expert" in something, they had a whole publicity book of profs listing their areas of expertise. Surely there is someone in your greater region who is an expert on the blackfoot nation...

  5. Heartbreak, Thanks. We will give that a try, though I think I will wait to see what happens as a result of my email first., thanks! I sent them an email.

    M Segal-Weisman, uh, yeah, should have thought about myself. My small liberal arts college has no one, but you are right, I should be able to use my resources to get help.

  6. You might try contacting the EWU Native American Studies Department.
    It's a pretty big program and they work with groups and tribes from all over the Northwest. They are also a repository for native languages and would be able to connect you with a native speaker.

  7. Hedgetoad,
    Thanks! I sent the information on to the social worker. That would be the worker at the private agency. I will check out the web site too.

  8. You can contact Ask A Linguist.

    One of my linguistics professors form my anthropology program in college volunteered for this.


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