100 Native American last names/surnames and their meanings

100 Native American last names/surnames and their meanings

Native Americans were the inhabitants of much of North America long before the arrival of European settlers in the 15th century. Like numerous other cultures, these people had traditions that governed their practices, names, beliefs, and associations. Most native American last names were derived from a person's time of birth, occupation, temperament, clan, and habitation. The native Americans' names were eventually influenced by the British, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

native American last names and meanings
Native Americans on horseback. Photo: pexels.com, @Julia Volk
Source: UGC

Native Americans are comprised of numerous sub-groups or tribes. The best-known ones are the Navajo, Cherokee, Apache, and Sioux. Over time, the native Americans' names got passed down the generations. Today, there are a lot of picks that have a rich history and a deep meaning.

Native American last names and meanings

Here, you can check out some of the most interesting names, from the most common indigenous last names to the ones that are exclusive to every tribe.

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Most common native American last names

Cherokee last names
A native American in traditional clothing. Photo: pexels.com, @Ron Graham-Becker
Source: UGC

These options are normally used by Native American people regardless of their tribe. They are quite common but no less interesting. Some of them have originated from other nations and cultures that settled in America.

Name Meaning
WilliamsResolute protector
Smith One who strikes metals
SandovalGroove of wood
Paddock Small enclosure
MaizenOccupational, meaning 'the one that picks maize'
LocklearA person who was a locksmith
LewisVictorious
KippTo swell; fat man
JonesGod has favoured
JohnsonSon of John
IrvingWater
HowellThe sun
HoltA small grove of trees
HensleyStallion
GalordHigh-spirited, cheerful
EubankOne who lives near the ridge of a yew
DentonFrom the town in the valley
DeerePrecious
CornfieldOccupational, for those who worked in a cornfield.
ChavosChild
BrownOne with brown hair, complexion, or clothing
HilliardOne who lives on the hills
BranhamFrom the habitation of the Bramham tribe in West Yorkshire
BluebirdHappiness
BiaBlessed or white
BernardAs strong as a bear
BaheThe gray man
AlexanderDefender of the men
AlbertyBelonged to the Alberti family, who lived in the United States at the beginning of the 1920s.

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Ancient Native American last names

common native American last names
Native Americans in stunning regalia. Photo: pexels.com, @Sami Aksu
Source: UGC

Some examples are rather old-timey, and today, it may not be easy to find a person who bears it. However, they have an exciting history. Here are some of the oldest Native American names and their respective meanings.

NameMeaning
WelchForeign
WarcloudFrom the words war and cloud
VanceFrom the marsh
TsosieSlim
ThunderhawkBased on the power of thunder, combined with the word hawk
SwiftwaterA family that lives near swift water
SummerhillA family that lives on a hill
PompeyFive
HuamanHawk
FilemonsenSon of Filemon
CountrymanA man who lived in the country
ChubbuckThis one is of German origin and means 'chubby one.'
BravebirdBased on a bird's trait
BlackrockA family from the black rock area
ArrowGiven to a hunter

Cherokee last names list

The Cherokee are an indigenous group of the United States that live in the Southeastern Woodlands. When it came to Cherokee surnames, they used their imagination in the best way. Here is a nice Cherokee last names list to help you get an idea.

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NameMeaning
YansaBuffalo
WesaCat
WayaWolf
WahkanSacred
UtsidihiThe mankiller
TskilekwaBig wizard
TsiyiCanoe
RayetayahHanging maw
OnaconaWhite owl
MoytoyRainmaker
KanagagotaStanding turkey
Kana′tĭthe lucky hunter
GawonisgiSpeaker
CheasequahRed bird or cardinal
ChaskeFirst born son
AustenacoChief
AtsadiFish
AtohiWoods
AhyuiniSwimmer
Adahy Close to the Cherokee word adahi’i which actually means poison

What are some Navajo last names?

indigenous surnames
A Native American man close up. Photo: pixabay.com, @Lauraham666
Source: UGC

The Navajo are a Native American nation that resides in the Southwestern United States. It is the largest tribe in the United States, followed by the Cherokee Nation. Here are some indigenous surnames from the Navajo people.

NameMeaning
YazzieLittle
TsosieSlender or slim
TsinajinnieBlack streak clan
TsinajiBlack
TodicheeneBitter water people
ToadlenaWater that flows up and out
TlizilaniGoat
TabaahaShore, beach
PeshlakaiSilver
NezTall
LapahieGray
HatahleMedicine man
EtsittySmithy, pounder; to pound
DescheeneClan designation, red-streak people
DaisyYounger one
ClawLeft-handed
BylillyFor him; magic power
BitsillieYounger brother
BenallyHis grandchild
BegayHis son
Adakai Gambler, card player
AcothleyCowboy

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What are some Apache surnames?

The Apache originally resided in what is now the Southwestern United States. The Apache people are subdivided into various subtribes. These include the Jicarilla, Chiricahua, Salinero, Lipan, Mimbreño, Mescalero, and the Ndendahe people. Here are some Apache names and their meanings.

NameMeaning
AltahaHigh or elevated
CosayPerson who lived on the White Mountain
DoselaThe commoner
MescalOne from the Mescalero clan
TessayOne who lives in the reserve

What are some Sioux Surnames?

indigenous last names
A native American man. Photo: pexels.com, @Los Muertos Crew
Source: UGC

The Sioux tribe is made up of three subtribes, namely the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota. The Sioux people were known for being skilled warriors. Here are some names from the Sioux tribe.

NameMeaning
MakaA Lakota surname that means soil, ground, or earth
HowahkanA strong voice or sacred voice
GalihaiA Lakota last name that means gentle or delicate
ChaskaThis Dakota last name means son
AngpetuIt means radiant or daytime

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Unique native American names

While most native Americans are not exactly what one would consider commonplace, some are rarer than others. If you are looking for a surname that completely stands out, here are some excellent unique options.

NameMeaning
FinedayDerived from a good day
DecorahSerpent
DeclayThe charming one
CorizCheerful and friendly
ClaymoreBig or great sword

In today's world, Native American last names are among the unique names one can give their child. This is because most of the native American tribes have since adopted the influences of other cultures, an attribute most reflected in their modern-day naming traditions.

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