While lots of American parents are returning to old-fashioned baby names like Olivia and Sophie, others are still following the trend of seeking unique, meaningful names for their new babies.
Whether you have a Native American background, just enjoy the heritage, or just want a unique,, meaningful name for your new baby, consider a Native American name. The following are some of my favorite Native American baby names for boys and girls, their origins and their meanings.
A word of warning, many baby names lists claim names like Aiyana and Chenoa are Native American names with beautiful meanings like “white dove” and “forever bloom.” Unfortunately, these meanings are incorrect and have no origin. Beware of any name that just says “Native American” origin. If it is legitimate you should be able to verify it with current speakers of the language. Do your research. Some of the names below are the Native American versions of English names.
Native American Female Baby Names
Amadahy (ah-mah-day) is the Cherokee variant for “Amanda” and close to a Cherokee phrase meaning “forest water.”
Jaci is a Tupi word meaning “moon.”
Kateri (kah-teh-ree) is a Mohawk twist on “Catherine.” Another variant is Kateli (kah-teh-lee). It is also derived from the Greek Aikaterine which means “pure.”
Kimama is Shoshone for “butterfly.” Another version is Kimimela which is Sioux for “butterfy.”
Meli (may-lee) is a Cherokee version of “Mary.”
Naira comes from Quechua phrase for “big eyes.”
Nizhoni (nee-zhoh-nee) is the Navajo word for “beautiful.”
Rayen is a Mapuche name meaning “flower.”
Sayen is a Mapuche name for “lovely.”
Tallula is a Choctaw name for “leaping waters” and the name of Tallula Gorge and Tallula Falls in Georgia.
Tanis (tah-niss) is the Cree word for “daughter.”
Winona (win-oh-nah) is the Sioux nickname for the first daughter.
Yazhi is Navajo for “little one.”
Native American Male Baby Names
Atian (ah-tee-ahn) is a Cherokee version of “Michael.”
Biyen (bee-yen) is the Ojibwe twist on “Peter.”
Chaske (chah-skay) was a nickname in Sioux for the first son.
Chayton is a Sioux name meaning “falcon.”
Cherokee (CHAR-oh-kee) is the name of one of the largest Native American nations and means “people of a different speech.” Alternatives include Cheroot or, for a girl, Shiriki. According to thinkbabynames.com, the male name Cherokee hasn’t made it into the top 1000 names in popularity scales.
Chetan (chay-than) comes from the Sioux word for “hawk.”
Isi is a unisex Choctaw name for “deer.”
Kai is Navajo for “willow tree.”
Kele is Hopi for “sparrow.”
Keme is Algonquin for “secret.”
Len is from a Hopi name for “flute.”
Mandan is the name of a small Native American tribe from the upper Missouri River.
Moki is a Hopi name for “deer.”
Nahuel is similar to the American name “Noel” and is the Mapuche name for “jaguar.”
Sani is the Navajo name for “the old one.”
Takoda is a Sioux name meaning “friend.”
Taregan is an Algonquin name meaning “crane.”
Viho is the Cheyenne name for “chief.”
The nonprofit linguistic organization Native Languages of the Americas (http://www.native-languages.org/baby.htm) offers help with authentic Native American baby names for a $10 donation as a fundraiser for their organization. Although they will not assign “Spiritual” names (because religion and tradition do not allow these to be assigned without knowledge of the person), you can fill out a brief questionnaire and request a specific language. Native Languages of the Americas will send you five Native American names according to your criteria in one of over a dozen languages.
Native Languages of America does not constitute using tribal names, such as Cherokee and Mandan included here. However, I personally think they can be used tastefully and have not seen dissenting opinions in my personal Cherokee heritage.
Sources where I located these baby names include: