Indian Names In Michigan: Reply To Professor Callary

Virgil J. Vogel
1988 Names  
Indian Names In Michigan: Reply To Professor Callary I bow briefly to Edward Callary's rather copious praise in the frrst half his unusually long review and proceed to the ramainder, to which a reply seems necessary. Michigan, he says, in supposed summary of my text, is from general Algonquian, as distinguished from Algonquin (392). I know of Algonquian languages and of the Algonquin language, but I do not know what "general Algonquian" is. Professor Callary is much concerned over what is the
more » ... oper defmition of an Indian name, and believes I have overstretched it (395). Much ado about nothing. If one looks for exactitude in this area, it will not be found. I indicated here and there that my focus was on the cultural impact of names related to Indians (67, 81, 91, 152, 176). I used those names relevant to this purpose, and leave it to others to debate on precise labels for everything. Decorah is a name which evolved from French into a common family name among the Winnebago (Vogel, Iowa, 16). In one of its many spellings, Deco"a, it was once on the Michigan map. What should we call it now? Who cares? Shavehead, N~n Day, and White Pigeon are English translations of Potawatomi names. Should they be excluded from consideration because they are from the language of the conquerors? Bertrand and Edwards are European names adopted by certain Indian families (Vogel, Michigan 27,35,44,51,57). They are not Indian names, but they are the names of Indians. One can compile a long list of such names, and to exclude them would deprive our map of the names of many prominent Indians. The story is the thing, not the label. Likewise with cultural or commemorative names. If a place is called Battle Creek because of a skirmish involving Indians, it is relevant to my story. Let others debate over how many Indians can dance on the head of a tomahawk. Professor Callary, citing Podunk and Peoria, holds that when we borrow an Indian name and forget where we got it, it becomes "less Indian" (395-96). Names Forum
doi:10.1179/nam.1988.36.1-2.103 fatcat:zpskmduhpfcuroh6tnowok7zbq