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The Name Onalee
Q: > Hello!
As I read on your website, I see that you receive
many requests for
information regarding names. My first name is
"Onalee" and I have been told my whole
life that it is a native american name. I
have been told that it
means "laughing brook". I would be interested to
know if any of this is true.
Any information that you have for me would be
A: Hello, thanks for writing. Well, none of us knows the
exact origin of your name. It seems to have been
popular among both Indian and white ladies born
between about 1900 and 1940, all across the country.
So it would sort of surprise me if it had a
traditional native meaning--since there wasn't an
intertribal movement till the 1960's, Indian people
from different tribes in completely different regions
didn't usually use each other's traditional names
(only when they lived near each other, like in
Oklahoma, was there that kind of mixing.) So it's
probably more likely that it was a early 20th-century
variant of Annalee, which was a longstandingly popular
name among both Indian and white girls. All it would
have taken would be one Indian woman whose given name
was Onalee and whose Indian name meant "laughing
brook" for the story to pass down the family tree that
it was the meaning of the name. Perhaps you have a
native Onalee like this in your family tree.
Of course, it's also possible that it is an Indian
name that we just don't happen to be aware of. If your
family is native, then we might be able to tell you
more specifically whether that is the case if we knew
what tribe they were from.
Hope that helps!
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