Indian Games, Dances & Native Songs - online book

Native American Ceremonials, Sports, and Songs with Sheet Music, Lyrics & Commentary

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from danger. Such a name, therefore, marks an epoch in a man's life and is strictly personal to the man, and, to a degree, indicative of his character or attainments. It sometimes happens, although but rarely, that a man on such an occasion may decide to take the name of a noted ancestor rather than acquire an entirely new name, but the character of the act of taking a new name is not thereby changed.
These facts concerning the significance of Indian personal names throw light on the widespread custom observed among Indians of never addressing men or women by their personal names or of using those names in their presence. To do so is a breach of good manners. The personal name, as has been shown, refers either to the religious rites sacred to the bearer's clan or else to a notable act performed by the man; in both cases the name stands for something that is too closely connected with the life of the individual to make it fit for common use. The difficulty of designat­ing a person one wishes to address is met by the use of terms of relationship. Of course, in some companies these terms would be literally true and proper, but there are terms which are used in a wider sense and which do not imply actual kinship. (The subject of Indian relationships and their terms is too complex to be en­tered upon here.) There are terms which are employed merely to indicate respect. For instance, " Grand­father" is used when addressing or speaking of the President of the United States; "Little Father" and "Father" when addressing or speaking of the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,
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