Learn the meanings and origins of traditional Blackfoot surnames

To listen to the Blackfoot pronunciation click the play button under the Name’s description

A

Aberdeen

This is an English surname received at Tatsikihkimikoi


Across The Mountain – Saatoht

This is a war name recalling a time when the bearer spent raiding among the people of the mountains

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B

Bad Arm – Iikapostsi

This name describes the bearer, who, when he was small, injured one arm, which eventually grew to be shorter than the other arm.

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Bad Man – Saommitsitapi

This is a war name referring to raiding

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Bear – Kiaiyo

This is a vision name where a bear approached this man; the person could also have been a fearless individual, such as the bear

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Bear Shin Bone – Kiaiyo’tsiinai

This is understood to be a reflection of the owner’s bravery as the bear is a brave and ferocious animal. This is a war name

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Beebe

This is an English surname


 

 Bellows – Kaksiipssi

Origin unknown

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Big Head – Omahkihkiniiawa

This name is a description of the person’s physical characteristics

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Big Nose – Omahkssksisi

This is another descriptive name recalling how the person looked

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Big Sorrel Horse – Omohkotsimio’taki

This is a war name referring to the capture of a big sorrel horse in a raid

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Big Swallow – Omahksiiksikapaamssi

This is a vision name incorporating the swallow

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Big Throat – Omahkaokomaan

This name does not refer to the throat but to the region of the body which is just below the chin

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Big Wolf – Omohkokoiyi

This is a vision name referring to the wolf

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Bird – Piikihsi

All the animals of the earth were able to talk to the ancient people. A bird must have been in a vision in this case and talked to the bearer allowing him to use his name

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Black Antelope – Sikawakasi

This is a vision name involving a black antelope

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Black Face – Siksski

This name recalls a physical characteristic of the bearer probably given in childhood

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Black Forehead – Sikonskiwa

This is another name given in childhood describing how the person looked

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Black Horse – Sikimiotasi

The bearer had many black horses in his herd

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Black Plume – Siksapo’p

An aged eagle’s plumage grows darker with age. This is a name bestowed on the bearer wishing dignity and old age on him

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Black Rabbit – Sikaattsista

This is a vision name recalling the bush rabbit

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Black Water – Sikaohki

This may refer to an alcoholic beverage which this person drank

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Black White Man – Siksapiikoan

This is a childhood name recalling the bearer’s skin colour

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Blood – Kainaikoan

Origin unknown

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Bottle – Sakokoto

This may have reference to ice, but this is not confirmed

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Brave Rock – Aksistoohkotok

This is a war name based on bravery. This man may have been so brave his body seemed invincible like a rock when he went to war

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Brewer

English name


 

Brown Weasel – O’taawa

This is a vision name referring to the weasel when it is brown in the summertime

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Bruised Head – Iinokihkini

This refers to an injury suffered by the bearer

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Buckskin (Buckskin Rider) – Issikowasiohkitopi

This should have been “Buckskin Rider.” This is a war name whereby a buckskin was taken in a raid

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Bull Calf – Stamiksonistai

This name refers to white bison, which the ancient people did not eat

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Bull Child – Stamiksiipokai

This is a southern Peigan name

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Bull Shields – Stamiksaawootaan

The people used buffalo hide to make their shields. This name recalls this and is a war name

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C

Calf Robe – Onistahsiyaan

Aissksstaki (a water monster or creature) took pity on this man telling him that since man would never be able to kill one of this creature’s members, he would give him a robe which looked like or resembled the skin of the aissksstaki. The closest to this was a bison’s calf’s hide

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Calihoo

This is not a Blood Indian name


 

Calling Last – Sakowa’paohkomi

This is a vision name

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Chief Body – Naminaisstom

This is a name based on uncertainty where an old man on a war raid with many young men, spotted a single member of the enemy hiding in a hollow in the earth. The old man told a man by the name of Ninaipiikihsi: ” You have a magnificent body. It almost seems that with your body, you could almost be a warrior without having to prove it. But I have spotted an enemy over there. Help me kill him so that you and I can both count coup.” But the young man preferred to go for help from the others. When they came rushing forward, the old man was already locked in combat with the enemy warrior. Neither opponent could do any damage before the group of warriors surged in and killed the enemy. Ninaipiikihsi afterward told the old man, “You are getting too old; you cannot kill the enemy any longer.” The old man looked at him sadly and said, “You have a chief’s body for nothing.”

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Chief Calf – Ninaonistai

This is a name referring to people renowned for their war deeds. This is a war name

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Chief Moon – Ninaikiisom

It may refer to a sacred thing

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Coal – Sikohkotok

This must refer to the person being born near where Lethbridge is today, and we have some coal

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Cochrane

This is an English name


 

Coming Singer – Aisstainihki

This is a vision name recalling a spirit, which approached this individual

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Cotton

This is a English name


 

Crane Chief – Siikaminai

A young boy had befriended a crane and raised it as a pet. When the boy reached manhood and went to war, he was killed. The crane had accompanied him. The bird mourned his friend like a human being. He somehow indicated to the people that they should avenge the death of his friend. When they did actually agree to this, the crane would fly ahead of the party noting the position of the enemy. In this way, the people eventually avenged the deaths of those they had lost including the crane’s friend

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Crazy Bull – Mattsiistamik

This name, which is a war name, recalls the renegade bison bull which was so fierce, he did not live with the other bison

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Creighton

This is an English name


 

Crop Eared Wolf – Makoiyopisoki

This is an animal name noting a particular physical characteristic of the wolf

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Cross Child – Minikssitsimaan

This name probably refers to the parents of this child who were always fighting so that the child was born in anger

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Crow Chief – Maisstoina

This is a vision name

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Crow Spreads His Wings – Maisstoikaniksaipoiyi

This is a vision name incorporating the stance of the crow as it is on the verge of flight

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Crying Head – Assanio’tokaan

What we think about we have in our mind. This person probably cried a lot as a baby

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Curly Rider – Mookoiyohkitopi

This person’s favourite horse had curly hair

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D

Davis

This is an English name


 

Day Chief (Thunder Chief)– Ksistsikominaawa

Harry Shade had previously stated that the late Percy Creighton had said that the name should have been “Thunder Chief.” This name may refer to “Day” but more likely to “Thunder.” According to White Feathers and other elders of the day, whoever interpreted the name was wrong, because Thunder sounds much like Day in Blackfoot, and since the grandfather THUNDER CHIEF was a Chief, the name should have been THUNDER CHIEF

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Day Rider – Kaatsikomohkitopi

A Cree Indian who had been out hunting, had tethered his horse while preparing the two deer he had killed. Kaatsikomohkitopi, walking home from an unsuccessful raid, noticed the horse. Creeping up stealthy to it, he was able to untie the horse and steal it away. Because this occurred during the daytime, he was given the name “Day Rider”

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Delaney

This is an English name


 

Devine

This is an English name

E

Eagle Bear – Piitaohkiaiyo

This name refers to the eagle and the bear. The combination of the two majestic animals makes for a good name. The owner of a bundle cannot refer to a bear by its proper name as it is believed that in doing so, a bad dream will come on causing misfortune to the person

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Eagle Child – Piitaipokaawa

The bearer must have been a pampered child, a child overly protected by his parents

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Eagle Plume – Piitaisaapo’p

An eagle’s plume must have been worn by an enemy, which was subsequently taken by someone in this person’s family in war

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Eagle Speaker – Piitai’poiyiwa

This is probably due to the manner in which this person spoke. Or, it could be that he actually talk to the eagle

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Eagle Tailfeathers – Soowa’tsiinai

This is probably a war name, which was in reference to someone taking eagle tail feathers from an enemy

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Eli

This is an English name

F

Fair Brown Weasel – Nittai

This name refers to the weasel in the spring time when it changes its colour to brown

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First Charger – Iikamo’tsstsoi

This is a war name referring to the person who charged the enemy first before anyone else

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First Rider – Matommohkitopi

This is a war name referring to this man’s ability to be the first person to capture an enemy’s horse and ride it

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Fox – Ottaatoiyi

This name was given to Makkaisto when he went to Dunbow School

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G

Gambler – Aikahtsi

This name denotes a habit which this man had

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Gladstone

This is an English name


 

Good Dagger – Ahssimaki

This name refers to how this person stabbed an enemy many times as if he really enjoyed doing it

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Good Prairie Hen – Matsiikitoki

This is a vision name incorporating the prairie chicken

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Good Rider – Mattsohkitopi

This is a war name which probably refers to a magnificent horse which he got in a raid

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Goodstriker – Ahsowaiyaki

This is a war name referring to how the man struck the enemy

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Gros Ventre Boy

In the old days, the Gros Ventre Indians were our allies and our friends. This man may have been a Gros Ventre

H

Hairy Bull – Immoiyiistamik

Origin unknown. Must have referenced an extremely hairy bull

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Healy

This is an English name


 

Heavy Head – Issokihkini

This may be in reference to a physical characteristic, how a person looked

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Heavy Runner – Issokoiyomahkaawa

This name refers to the tracks made by the tail of a cougar. It does not mean “heavy runner”

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Heavy Shields – Issokoiyawootaan

This may refer to a shield ornamented with the part of a cougar. It must have been a vision name

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Hind (Late/Last) Bull – Sakoiyistamik

This name results from the idea that all the names incorporating the term “stamp” or “bull” had been used already or they were claimed by others. This name was the only one left. Because of this, there was a misinterpretation in the translation. Rather than “hind” bull it should have been “late” or “last” bull

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Hind Man – Kakoiyinai

Because people were endowed with names, which recalled a characteristic of a person, this name must mean that this person was always late or last to get things done

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Holy Singer – Naatowainihki

This man may have been the one who sang all the holy songs in the sacred ceremonies. He came to be known by this

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Holy White Man – Natoiyaapiikoan

This is a dream name where Anattsipistohkomi saw a black robe (priest) in his dreams. Because of this, when his son, Ponokaomitawa, was born, he bestowed then name which means “priest” or “holy white man”

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Hoof – Sistsini

This man was the father of Soiyiikaksin

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Hungry Crow – Maistoonootsi

The name may have been an endearing childhood name where the child was called this as a result of his being hungry like a crow

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Hunt – Naatsikapotamiso

There is no similarity between the English and the Blackfoot here. Meaning unknown

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I - K

Iron Horn – Miksskimmiotskinaiyi

This is a name having to do with bravery in battle

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Iron Shirt – Iiksskimmmisoka’simi

This is a vision name where some metal adorned a man’s shirt

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King

This is an English name


Knife – Isttowani

This person was never anywhere without his knife

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L

Le’Hirondelle

This is not a Blood Indian name


 

Little Bear – Kinaksipakksikoiyi

Meaning unknown

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Little Man – Iinakitapi

Translation into English could have been “small person” rather than “little man”. This name probably describes the bearer of this name

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Little Shields – Iinakawo’taana

This name resulted from this person using a particularly small shield in battle and establishing for himself a reputation as a fierce warrior

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Long Time Squirrel – Misami’kai’siwa

This is a vision name

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Low Horn – Iikaisskini

This name refers to cattle where the horns on this particular animal were shaped forward on the head. (It may refer to the longhorn)

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M

Macdonald

This is an English name


 

Many Bears – Pakksikoiyakaiyim

There were many animals which bestowed their powers on the people. In this instance, many bears may have appeared in the man’s dreams and therefore the name

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Many Chiefs – Akainnai

This name probably means that this individual went to war against an enemy where there where many chiefs. In the process of the battle, this man won the battle despite all the chiefs on the other side. It could also mean that this man acquired chief’s status in many ways

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Many Feathers – Akaikkimaaniwa

There were many birds which bestowed their powers on this man. Because of this, the man led a charmed life as a warrior and the people felt assured he would always return from war safely because of all the feathers which the many birds had given him

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Many Grey Horses – Akaissikapio’taki

The bounty which this person acquired in a raid included many horses which were the colour grey

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Medicine Crane – Ihkitopio’tapatsiikami

This is a Southern Peigan name. The “siikam” was a crane which it was believed preceded a war party as it went and reported on the enemy’s activities and position

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Melting Tallow – Siikihsaksin

The name recalls the practice of staking the raw fat of the bison’s stomach near the fire. As the fat became hot, grease would form and flow off

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Mills

This is an English name


 

Mistaken Chief – Pahtsiinai

This name recalls how this person mistakenly took comrade’s weapon during the heat of battle thinking it belonged to an enemy

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Morning Bird – Apinakoisistsi

This is a dream or vision name where a particular kind of bird gave its powers to this person

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Morning Owl – Apinakoisipistto

Owls gave names to many people. this particular name may have come from an owl giving its powers to this man in the morning

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Mountain Horse – Miistatsomitai

This is a war name recalling a raid and horses were taken from a mountain tribe

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Many Fingers – Akaokkitsiwa

This name reflected a physical characteristic which this person had, that being he was born with one extra toe on one of his feet

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N - O

Nice Cutter – Saitsiisitai

This is a mistaken translation. What is actually refers to is this person cutting an enemy’s body or causing a break in the skin

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No Runner (Running White Buffalo) – Onistaomahkai

This name should been “Running White Buffalo”

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Oka

Origin unknown


Old Shoes – Akaitsikin

This may refer to a brave going to war wearing old moccasins. His companions chided him in jest for this

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Old Woman – Siksikaippitaki

This person was a man. Not known the derivation of this name

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Owns Different Horses – Piowakaota’siwa

Derivation unknown. Maybe this man had many horses but not one of these was outstanding

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P

Pace

This is an English name


 

Panther Bone – Kaataihkiitowa

This translation of this name has no resemblance to the Blackfoot name. This is childhood name

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Plain Woman – Ako’taaki

This is another error in translation. The first part of theme means “something strong, something important.” It means that this man was very good in doing duties ordinarily associated with women

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Plaited Hair – Akaiyamihtsinimaan

This is a war name recalling the scalp taken from a Cree Indian which had many braids or plaited hair in it

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Plume – Saapo’p

This is a war name where a person had taken an eagle’s plume from the headgear of an enemy. Eventually he bestowed the name on his son

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Prairie Chicken – Kiitokihpi

This is a vision name meaning “prairie chicken dancer”

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Prairie Hen – Saokikiitoki

This is probably a mistake in translation

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Provost

Not a Blackfoot Indian name

Q - R

Quesnelle

This is a french name


 

Rabbit – Aatsistaiyi

This is a vision name

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Red Plume (Crane) – Miiksiikam

This is a vision name where the crane had ochre in its plumage

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Rider – Ihkitopi

This is a war name where the person had been successful and returned from war riding a captured pony

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Riding At The Door – Iitsohksiksistohkitopi

This is a war name referring to this person who had succeeded in taking an enemy’s horse which had been tied very close to the doorway of the enemy’s lodge

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Round Nose – Komsksisi

This is a childhood name referring to a physical characteristic

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Russell

This is an English name

S

Sarcee – Sahsiiponihtsii

Meaning unknown

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Scout

This is an English name


 

Scraping White – Apihtawatomoi

This is probably refers to the extreme white colour of this person’s clothing resulting from his wife’s diligent preparation in the tanning of the hides

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Shade

This is an English name


 

Shot Both Sides – Aatso’taowa

Red Crow had to war in Crow country. In a weak moment, he fell asleep and found himself surrounded by the enemy. Rather than give up, he dashed forward and was shot at from all sides. Despite all of this however, he made it out of the situation intact

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Shouting (Shouting from the Midst) – Iitsspiaipapisam

This is probably another war name where this person shouted in the midst of battle where he was probably surrounded by the enemy

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Singer (Sang Three Songs) – Niokskainnihki

This name was contracted in translation. It was probably associated with a sacred ceremony

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Small Eyes – Iiwapini

This is another childhood name recalling a physical characteristic of the owner at that time

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Small Face – Pokskia’ki

This surname resulted from a woman’s name which was a descriptive name of the person when she was an infant

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Soup – Koopis

This man was raised by a foster father while he was still nursing as a baby. He was raised by his new father with the soup made from animal meat. He lived and his family has thrived

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Spear Chief – Samakiina

This is a war name referring to a lance or spear taken from the enemy

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Spotted Bull – Stamiksiikihsipimi

A buffalo can be dark brown, a yellowish tan colour, or, it can be white. This name probably refers to all of these colours. It could be a war name or a vision name

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Spotted Eagle – Piitaikihtsipimi

This is a vision name

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Stabs Down – Iitsstsimaki

This is a war name. It recalls the Blood Indian being crazed with the lust for blood coming upon fallen enemy and stabbing him continuously until he is completely dead

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Standing Alone – Nitsitapaipoiyi

This refers to the person losing his horses and wandering alone looking for them. He was a fast runner and could easily outrun a horse. He retrieved his horses in this manner

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Steel – Iskima’tsis

This is a war name probably referring to a metal knife taken from an enemy

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Strangling Wolf – Makoiyiistapistaan

The people feared the wolf because those people he bit lost their minds. This name refers to this man’s feat of actually capturing a wolf and killing it by strangulation

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Striped Wolf – Kihtsipapiisi

This is a vision name

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Sweet Grass – Katoiyisa

This is a mistaken translation. The name refers to a blood clot taken from a downed bison by an old man. The reason the old man had taken the blood clot was so that he and his wife could have something to eat because the man’s son-in-law was starving them and only gave them enough to stay alive. When the old man brought the blood clot home, he ordered his wife to heat water so that they could boil the clot and make some soup. As the water heated up up, a cry arose from the water. Eventually, after this had occurred several times, the man discovered a tiny boy child where there had been a blood clot before. Following the child’s instructions, the old man enabled him to achieve normal size in a very short time. Thus the old couple had a fully grown son who looked after them from that time on

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T

Tailfeathers – Sowa’tsis

This is a war name probably recalling an act of bravery when tailfeathers were taken from the enemy

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Takes the Gun Strong – Iiksinaawa

This is a war name. It refers to this Blood Indian who was cornered by the Crow Indians. Because the crowd around them was so great, the enemy could not shoot for fear of killing one of their own. In the furor, the Blood Indian managed to jump on a horse and ride out. He was thoroughly pursued by the Crow but always managed to get away each time on of them got close, in the process grabbing their weapons. He disarmed many. Thus the name was really appropriate

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Tall Man – Spitaikoan

This is a childhood name recalling a physical characteristic of the bearer

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Tallow – Otsikssis

This name is in reference to the fat around the bison’s stomach which was valued as a delicacy by the people. They ate this fat with kaiyi (dried meat). This person had had an overpowering passion for this fat delicacy, thus the name

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Three Persons – Niokskaitapi

This is a war name probably indicating the number of people this person killed in a particular raid

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Twigg

This is an English name

V - W

Vielle

This is an Anglo name from the United States


 

Wadsworth

This is an English name


 

Weasel Bear – Apaohkiaiyowa

The weasel is a ferocious animal. If it were a larger animal it would probably be the most formidable animal around. There are no other animals which can make a fool out of the bear because he is so strong and fierce. This name evokes the powers of these two animals

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Weasel Fat – Apaissis

The fat from a killed weasel may have been used for some special purpose because of his incredible audacity as a fighter

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Weasel Head – Apao’tokaan

This is a name which has been handed down for many generations. The derivation is unknown

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Weasel Mocassin – Apaitsikin

In the old days, the most prestigious warriors adorned their moccasins with weasel skins

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Weasel Tail – Apaohsoiyis

We do not remove the tail of the fur of the weasel. The tails are stuffed to prevent them from shrinking. This may be a war name indicating a prize taken from the enemy. It could also be a vision name

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Wells

This is an English name


 

White Feathers – Apohsowaatsis

This does not refer to the eagle but some other bird. It is a vision name

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White Man – Napikoana

This may refer to the person having very light-coloured skin like a white man

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White Man Left – Naapiya’ksisa

This refers to a left-handed person who may have been a white man. It could be a war name. It could also be a name describing a physical characteristic

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White Quills – Apikaiyis

This is probably a dream or vision name referring to the porcupine

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Williams

This is an English name


 

Willows – Piinootsipissko

This indicates the area where this person was born

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Wings – Iiminniwa

This man’s English name was “Emil.” Because there is no “L” sound in Blackfoot, the man’s parents could not pronounce his English name properly or they would not pronounce it properly. Instead of “Emil” they said “Iiminniwa.” The Blackfoot pronunciation caught on with others and it incidentally means “wings” in Blackfoot. Thus the name

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Wolf Child – Makoiyiipoka

This may be a name reflecting the quality of the person’s life

Press the play button to listen to the pronunciation


 

Wolf Plume – Makoiyiisaapo’p

A wolf skin may have been decorated with plumes. This was probably taken from an enemy. It could also have been a vision name

Press the play button to listen to the pronunciation

Y

Yellow Feet – Otahkoikawa

This is a childhood name. It may have recalled the child defecating on his feet when was small

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Yellow Wings – Ootahkoikanikiisoiyii

This recalls a certain kind of bird yellowish in colour. This is a vision name

Press the play button to listen to the pronunciation


 

Young Pine – Assohtoka

This recalls a type of pine tree which does not grow very tall. It usually grows away from the other trees of the forest. this was probably a vision name

Press the play button to listen to the pronunciation

 

Ninastako Learning Resources Now Available

 

The Ninastako Blackfoot App!

App Features:

  • Conversational Blackfoot. Learn basic Blackfoot through words, phrases and audio
  • Blackfoot Surnames. Learn the history and meanings of Blackfoot surnames. Audio pronunciation included
  • Pow Wow Trail. Learn when and where the pow wows are being held
  • Blackfoot Challenge. See how many Blackfoot words you know through our quiz and much more…

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Ninastako Blackfoot Language Resources

A perfect introduction to the Blackfoot Language

  • Learn hundreds of Blackfoot words and phrases with the Conversational Blackfoot 
  • Read and listen to Blackfoot legends (English text, Blackfoot text and Blackfoot voice over)
  • Test your knowledge with the Blackfoot Challenge
  • Download lesson plans for the Blackfoot legends (perfect for teachers)
  • Watch for new material updated regularly 
  • All memberships are good for 1 year (unlimited access and downloads)

TAKE THE BLACKFOOT CHALLENGE

Challenge your Blackfoot Knowledge

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