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Subject: Alaskan Names
Author: cait   (Authenticated as cait)
Date: January 12, 2005 at 6:48:06 PM
I decided I'd throw together some different aspects of specifically Alaskan naming trends to educate and entertain those of you who are interested. I have credentials: I was born in a fishing village on Alaska's west coast, and I've lived in the state my whole life except breaks when my family lived overseas.

There are three main naming attributes that I see as specifically Alaskan. I'll write a paragraph on each attribute and list some examples after it.


Native Alaskan Names

First, there are Native Alaskan names. There are many different kinds of Alaska Natives, divided into two main categories: "Eskimo" (Inuit peoples) and "Indian" (Native American peoples who are distantly related to the Navajo). Within these categories there are subgroups, such as Yu'pik, Inupiat, Athabaskan, Tlingit, and more. Native names aren't used very commonly anymore except in some Yu'pik villages where Yu'pik is still the language used in schools and other official situations. More commonly, Native Alaskans will be given an English name for everyday use and a Native name for ceremonial use. There are also lots of Native Alaskans who don't have a Native name at all.

Examples

Male:
Saupeteese
Payuk
Kiviaq
Kaare
Patuk

Female:
Hinshlai'
Puyuk
Asaaluk
Dika
Takgrook


"Village" Names

There are three "cities" in Alaska: Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau, and several "towns" which include Sitka, Ketchican, and Homer. Pretty much everything else is considered "the villages". Most villages have between 50 and 500 people (around 250 is probably the most common), and only about six of them have road access. The rest are accessible only by boat, plane, or dogsled. There are definitely white people in the villages, but not very many. The majority of village residents are Alaska Native, and the naming style there is rather different from the cities, although they're becoming more similar as contact with the outside world (through the internet and such) is more common. That said, there are some names that an Alaskan could definitely identify as being "from the village", and most Alaskans would stereotype the person that way. I'm not sure how easy it is for Outsiders to "hear" how "Village" these names are, but it's easy for someone who lives here.

Examples

Male:
Lonnie (not a nn)
Freddie (not a nn)
Reggie (not a nn)
Charlie (not a nn)
Melvin

Female:
Evette
Hilma
Beverly
Nolee
Rita


Alaskan Place Names

The two naming styles I mentioned above mostly have to do with Alaska Natives. This third trend is more common among white Alaskans who have really dedicated themselves to this place and want their children's names to embody their connection. It's not uncommon for these folks to give their children Alaskan place names, especially places they have a connection too. Less common is using Native words as names.

Examples

All of these names could be unisex, but if it's more commonly used for one gender I've noted it in the brackets.

Denali (Means "The Great One" in Athabaskan. The true name of Mount Denali, known to most Outsiders as Mt. McKinley)
Deniki ("moose" in Athabaskan)
Alaska (Obviously, the name of the state.)
Chena (More common for females. It's the name of a river.)
Tanana (Ditto to Chena)
Sheenjik/Sheenjek (More common for males. The name of a river.)
Kenai (More common for females. Probably means "flat, barren land". The name of a peninsula and a town.)
Kodiak (More common for males. It's the name of an island, a village, and a brown bear. I'm not sure about the meaning.)
Panik/Panika (Means "daughter" in Central Yu'pik. Obviously more common on females.)

Just to clarify, MOST Alaskans (including Native Alaskans) don't use any of these three styles. The most popular names in Alaska in 2003 were:

Female:
Hannah
Emma
Emily
Madison
Alexis

Male:
Jacob
Joseph
Joshua
James
Ethan

Any comments or questions?

~ Cait

This message was edited by the author on January 12, 2005 at 6:49:59 PM

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