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Names and Naming


Chief Simon Pokagon

As the Native American experience of boarding school indicates, in the late nineteenth century teachers, missionaries and government officials sought to transform the Native American into a carbon copy of the white man. The issue of naming, or rather renaming, Native Americans with " English Christian" names became a contentious topic in the late 1890's. The names of the Native American, typically descriptive of an act accomplished by the person or a definitive characteristic, posed many problems for the agents of incorporation. Primarily, as Frank Terry explained in his essay "Naming the Indian," that following their incorporation "Indian names" would cause "confusion and doubtless considerable ultimate loss" because there was no legal family name on record(Terry,302). As Terry goes on to explain the agents of incorporation felt that "among other customs of white people it is becoming important that Indians adopt that in regard to their name(Terry, 302). In order to best demonstrate the implications of this issue for Native Americans Frank Terry's essay is included in full along with Simon Pokagon's response to Terry's plan.

Naming the Indians

By Frank Terry, Superintendent of U. S. Boarding School for Crow Indians,Montana.

Simon Pokagon on "Naming the Indians"

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