I was talking with my mom last night about finally deciding to get a Name. I forget why, but she basically asked why I even wanted one and I got all frustrated and said “Everyone else has a Name!!!” I mean an Indian Name. My late cousin Christopher’s name was Snowdrift. Laurel told me that a long time ago you could go to any medicine person and they would all give you the same name. Now you can get different names from different people, and none of them will match. Kind of like Ab Fab, Patsy Stone’s full name is really Eurydice Colette Clytemnestra Dido Bathsheba Rabelais Patricia Cocteau Stone. So many names!!!
I currently have three, the usual number, first middle and last. Thirza is from Thirza Jones, who is a filmmaker incidentally and one of my mom’s friends. Jean is from Jean Goodwill, an Aunt of my mom’s who was one of the first Indian women to get a university education and went into nursing. And Cuthand is from my Grampa. But I did have a boys name, which was never used. If I’d been born male I would have been called Sarain.
Sarain, for those who don’t know, was an influential Aboriginal artist who also played matchmaker with my mum and dad. His father was stationed in Italy during the war, and met his mom over there. Then Sarain moved to Canada to learn more about his roots. He set up my mom and dad and then when he was in Mexico died tragically in an undertow in the Gulf. Just after he died, my mom got a letter from him where he mentioned going to see a fortune teller who had a little monkey who pulled out cards, and the card it pulled out was Death. Oh man! Mum’s friend had to call Sarain’s mom in Italy and tell her her son had died, not being able to speak any Italian either! Anyway, I think he suppressed the story of his Venetian past to avoid being called a pretend Indian or something like Grey Owl, which he wasn’t, he just had an Italian background as well. No, Pierce Brosnan will not be playing Sarain. My dad once showed me some of his drawings which clearly depict the back of the boats used in the canals of Venice. In fact, I just found a rather cute article with my dad in his youth and Sarain.
So I have thought seriously about taking on this boy name which would have been mine as well as my usual name. I have no idea what that would look like, besides having a longer name. I don’t know if sometimes I would go by Sarain or not.
And I still want my Cree name, because I would ordinarily have gotten a new name after reaching some level of adulthood. But it’ll probably be a name only a few people know, generally we don’t run around calling ourselves by our Cree names, it’s kind of special, although some do. Maybe we’ve just been colonized into humility and shame! Oh no!! Really though, a lot of stuff about my culture I simply don’t tell people as kind of a protection mechanism.
Ugh, my last job I worked with some white guy who thought Indian names were stupid, I nearly choked him. And the boss wouldn’t tell him to knock of the racist shit. No wonder I was so miserable.