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My Indian Name This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Toget an Indian name is a journey. It is what Native Americans did back then, andit is what they do today. There is history behind it, like everything in myculture.

The person giving me my Indian name, and starting me on my way,is Lee Staples, my Wa-ah. There are things the spirits ask me to do when I get myIndian name, and I do them with pride in my Indian heart.

The history ofthe naming is very interesting, but not known by everyone because one needs tofeel it. The name everyone knows me by is Michael, but that name has no realmeaning to me, nor to other Native Americans. Those who get a name are supposedto get it soon after birth so children will grow into it and, when they gotolder, they will know and use it like anyone's first name.

Before whitemen arrived on this land with their names, all the Natives had were their Indiannames because they had meaning and that is all there was and all they needed.

My Indian name is Waay Say Anah Gwud, which means Clouds That BringLight. I am proud to have such a powerful name; just having that name makes mefeel good.

There were things I had to do before I got my spirit name. Ihad to give gifts, like tobacco and money, in exchange for my name. It is atrade; I show the spirits I offer something to Lee for doing the naming. Then Ihave to get the food ready to eat for the feast we have for the naming ceremony.All the food I made for the naming had to be eaten that day by all the peoplethere and myself. With ceremony food, I have to eat it, or I have to burn it. Icannot throw it in the garbage because it is a disgrace to the food.

Thereis a process to the ceremony of getting my name. First, I prepared the food,gifts and tobacco for Lee to bless. Lee started to smoke his pipe and speak inOjibwa to bless the tobacco, food and gifts. Then he had to talk to the greatspirits and ask them to show him my name. After he told me my name, I had to sayit so the spirits heard me say it. After he gave it to me, we started to eat thefood I prepared, and as I was eating, my Wa-ah explained my name to me. That isthe four-step process I went through to get my name two months ago.

Getting my name was the best feeling I ever had because it was a mix of happyfeelings in a good way. I feel proud to walk around and know I have a name thathas meaning behind it, not in a racist way but in a very "proud of what Idid" way. All my family members know I got my name and are proud of me. Mymom and two brothers got their names at the same time. My mom felt just as goodand proud as I did when she got hers, and I was happy that she did. This is justthe beginning of being a part of my culture, and it feels right and good for mysoul.






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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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