Native American Surnames and Their History

Native American Surnames – Native American Last Names and Their History


What are some of the most common Native American surnames you ask?

Interestingly enough, Native Americans do not have surnames as we know them. It is more common for them to hold two names, both of which they can be addressed by, although one is not made common knowledge. This is because Native Americans believe that the name of an individual, holds a great deal of power of them. Therefore, by keeping their other name hidden, they can prevent others from controlling them. These names are considered sacred.

Native Americans would also go by a clan name, which was a name passed down from the mothers side. This meant that their identity came from who their mother was, and did not go to well with the modern American family name system. It caused more confusion, and did not correlate with the Native American family name system either.

Native American Surnames
Native American Surnames


Nowadays, Native American last names are a little more…English sounding? There is a reason behind this, however.

Traditional Native American names were quite complex, and given to an individual on the basis of an attribute they held. As you can imagine, these names would be quite a mouthful to pronounce, especially as some of the consonants and vowels are a lot more complex for an English speaker to pronounce.

To remedy this, many Native Americans took on some more general English surnames such as Smith or Jones, whilst simultaneously keeping their traditional Native American surnames. These names would be used for official purposes, or when a Native American child was to enter the school system.

Now, some Native Americans choose to go by their traditional name, and others have adopted English or Christian names.


You can read more articles on names from around the world, below.

  1. Slavic Names For Boys and Girls
  2. French Girl Names
  3. Unisex Names
  4. Scandinavian Girl Names
  5. Egyptian Girl Names
  6. Finnish Girl Names
  7. Elven Names For Boys and Girls
  8. Basque Girl Names
  9. Basque Names For Boys


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