Friday, November 28, 2008

What's in a Name?

Keet Paul Xhe-Dhe Mehner

I wanted to write a bit about my name. It was really hard for Dada and Mama to come up with a boy's name. They had the name for a girl picked out way earlier, but a name for a boy was hard. They had wanted a name with a "z" in it, as they call themselves X (Da-ka-Xeen) and Y (maYa), so Z was the next logical step. However, no boy's Z name really appealed. When mama suggested Keet, it seemed an obvious choice to both of them.

Kéet means "Killer Whale" or Orca in Tlingit. Dada belongs to the Killer Whale clan of the Eagle Moiety. Tlingit clan structure is complicated, so here is a very brief summation of it. Please feel free to add corrections!

The Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska and Northeast Canada belong to one of two matralineal lines, these are the Eagle (sometimes Wolf) and the Raven. Historically, Eagles and Ravens are the only ones allowed to marry. Thus, and Eagle could not marry another Eagle. Each of the moieties are further divided into a number of house clans. Da-ka-xeen is a member of the Dakl'aweidí Kéet Gooshi Hít (Killer Whale Dorsal Fin House)
Located in Klukwan, Alaksa.

As mama has not been adopted into a Raven clan, I technically don't belong to any clan, as clan affiliation is passed down through the mother. However, I was given an Eagle/Killer Whale name by my Great-Grandmother, Anita McNeil, who lives in Anchorage. As my dada was named by his Great-Grandmother, my parents requested my great-Grandmother a name as well. She selected Xhe-Dhe, which is a clan name that belongs to my great Uncle, Larry McNeil. It was the name of a fierce warrior before it was my Uncle's name. I am honored to share this name with my family.

Paul is also a family name. It was the name of both my father's father's father (my paternal great-grandfather Paul Mehner), and my mother's mother's father (my maternal great-grandfather Paul Urquhart Jr.). Pauline was the name of my mother's father's mother (my maternal great-grandmother Pauline Tabachnick Salganek) I also have a great Uncle Paul Urquhart III. Incidentally. I was also conceived on the anniversary of my great-great-grandfather's death, 32 years earlier. His name was also Paul, Paul Johnston Urquhart.

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