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INDIAN GAMES AND DANCES               117
Introduction. — Among the Indian tribes of the United States all personal names have a definite sig­nificance. Although there are diversities in the customs relating to names among the various tribes, yet, looking at these as a whole, personal names are observed to fall generally into two classes: First, those which refer to sacred rites; second, those which commemorate a personal achievement.
An Indian tribe is composed of a number of kinship groups or clans. To each one of these, speaking gen­erally, belongs the hereditary duty of performing a certain rite and also the care of the sacred objects con­nected with that rite. Each kinship group or clan has a set of personal names, all of which refer to the rite peculiar to the clan, or to the sacred objects or to the symbols connected with the rite, and one of these names is given to each person born within the clan. Names of this class are generally retained by men and women throughout life and, to a degree, are regarded as sacred in character. These names have also a social significance, as they always indicate the birth status of the person, for the name at once shows to which clan or kinship group the bearer belongs. No one can exchange his clan or birth name, any more than he can change his sex.
The names that belong to the second class are those which are taken by an adult to mark an achievement. This must be an act in which he has shown special ability or courage in successfully defending his people
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III