The Cherokee are the largest Native American tribe in the United States with over three hundred thousand people in the official Cherokee nation and many times more white people who have some Cherokee blood in their veins. Cherokee baby names are some of the most popular in the United States due to the large size of the tribe as well as the lyrical and poetic nature of the Cherokee names.
The Cherokee language is a part of the Iroquian family of languages which also includes the languages of the Mohawk, Huron, and Tuscarora-Nottoway tribes from northeastern United States. Although the Cherokee were originally from Tennessee, the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia they were forcibly settled on reservations in Oklahoma and North Carolina.
Famous Cherokee Names
Two of the Cherokee Nations are headquartered in Tahlequah, Cherokee County, Oklahoma -Tahlequah means “two is enough” in the Cherokee language. The name Tennessee – given to the state of Tennessee as well as the famous playwright Tennessee Williams – means “gathering place” in the language. The third Nation is headquartered in Cherokee, North Carolina – Cherokee itself is a Choctaw word meaning “people of the caves” and is a popular girl’s name.
The Cherokee man Sequoyah invented an alphabet for the Cherokee language, known as Tsalagi, in 1821. In its alternate spellings, Sequoia and Sequoya (both meaning “redwood tree”), this name is familiar to most English speakers because of the Sequoia National Park in California and its giant redwoods.
The Cherokees being an animist people, most Cherokee names are derived from the names given to animals, plants, and other things found in the nation’s traditional environment. Names can also be derived from traditional Western names such as Magi for Michael and Meli for Mary.
Other Cherokee Boy’s Names
Adahy is a very popular boy name meaning “he lives in the woods” although some people deny it as a traditional name. Atohi or Adohi does mean “woods” in the Cherokee language and is a traditional male baby name. Animal-derived names are Atsadi meaning “fish”, Galegina for “stag”, Sikwai meaning “sparrow”, and Onaconah for “white owl”. Dustu and Tooantuh mean “spring frog” and Kanuna means “bullfrog”.
Other boy’s names are Tsiyi meaning “canoe”, Degotoga means “standing together”, and Gawonii means “ he is speaking”. Unaduti is a Cherokee boy’s baby name meaning “woolly head”.
Other Cherokee Girl’s Names
Adsila is a popular Cherokee girl’s name meaning “blossom”. The similar Aiyana purported to mean “eternal blossom” is rejected by some authorities as having any Cherokee roots. Ahawie is a girl’s name meaning “deer” and Awinita means “fawn”. Other animal-derived names are Inolah for “black fox”, Salali meaning “squirrel”, Tayanita for “young beaver”, Yona meaning “bear”, and Wayah for “wolf”.
Awenasa is a girl’s name meaning “my home”, Hyawasee means “meadow”, Hyalei goes one better with “beautiful meadow”, and Immokalei means “waterfall”. There are also character-based names for girls. Ahyyyokah means “bringer of happiness”, Galilaney “friend”, Galilahi “attractive”, and Unega means “white”.