Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ohkay Owingeh

I was reading Indianz.com and came across a little snippet from an article about how the San Juan Pueblo (my peeps) are planning to change their official name to "Ohkay Owingeh", the name they were known by before the Spanish Conquest. It means "place of the strong people" in Tewa and is quite fitting, considering the Ohkay Owingeh were the only tribe that could declare war for all the neighboring Pueblo tribes, and such bad ass luminaries as Popé hail from there.

Changing your name sounds reasonable, doesn't it? I mean, many Navajo call themselves Diné, Cherokee prefer Tsalagi. It makes sense that a tribe, particularly one that was named after a Spanish saint, might want to reclaim some of their heritage and change their name. I mean, hell, if a New Mexico city can name itself after a gameshow, surely a sovereign nation of Indians can drop the Spanish saint moniker.

But you should read some of the comments made to this article. You'd think the governor of the pueblo, Joe Garcia, had spit on the flags of US and Spain, and told the indigenous peoples of the world to eat cake. Commentators on the article, who I can only assume are non-Native since I have yet to hear an Indian bemoan the evils of gaming, can't resist ranting about casinos (which reminds me to encourage you to please visit the Ohkay casino and resort). They seem equally alarmed about the obvious inevitability of Indians wanting to change the name of the United States of America next (you saw that one coming, didn't you?). They also claim Governor Garcia must care more about the name change than the impoverished people in his own tribe. Because much like the logic used in the mascot debate, it is understood that Indians can only focus on one issue at a time.

Ohkay Owingeh, eh? I like it.


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