American Indian Language Translations: Words for Tattoos, Literature or Art
This is an expansion of our popular Native American Pet Names fundraiser.
A lot of people write to us asking us to translate an American Indian word from English to put into a tattoo, jewelry inscription,
piece of artwork, story they're writing, grandfather's birthday cake, and so forth. In most cases you can make a translation to Indian
languages yourself for free if you are willing to spend the time--check out our
index for a large number of language-related Internet resources including online American Indian-English dictionaries and lists of
vocabulary words in Native American languages.
If you don't care to do this, though--it can take a long time to do Native American translation if you're not
familiar with these languages and you don't already know which language you're looking for--you can ask us and we'll do the translating
for you, in exchange for a $10 donation to our
nonprofit organization (which will then be used to preserve and promote
endangered Indian languages). The list of languages we can currently provide native translations for include Abenaki, Algonquin, Apache,
Athabaskan, Bella Coola, Blackfoot, Caddo, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chipewyan, Chippewa, Choctaw, Comanche, Cree, Creek, Crow,
Dakota Sioux, Dene, Delaware, Haida, Hopi, Inuktitut, Lakota, Lenape, Maliseet-Passamaquoddy, Mesquakie, Mohawk, Mojave, Munsee,
Muskogee, Navajo, Nez Perce, Nuxalk, Ojibway, Oneida, Osage, Pima, Potawatomi, Salish, Sauk, Seneca, Shawnee, Shoshone,
Tohono O'odham, Tlingit, and Yaqui. We may also be able to provide an American Indian word from other languages--
contact us first if you have a different language in mind.
Please note that this is only a fun way to raise money for a good cause. We will not give you or anyone else a "spirit
name," nor will we bless you, the words, or whatever you are writing them on. These requests are offensive to many
Native Americans; please respect our beliefs and do not misrepresent our role in suggesting these translations.
They are no different, spiritually speaking, than
words you looked up in an English-Indian language dictionary. If you are looking for an American Indian name with
spiritual significance, please talk to an elder in your community. No stranger can do this for you over the Internet, any more than
you could get baptised over the Internet. Also, if you are planning on getting a tattoo, please be aware that using words as
tribal tattoos is a modern practice, not a traditional one in any Indian tribe that we know of. If it is important to you to have a
traditional style tattoo, please see Orrin's article on
Native American Tattoos to learn more about that difficult quest.
On the other hand, if you are looking for the translation of a word from English into Native American languages for a modern style tattoo or
another creative but non-religious endeavor, then please fill out the form below. After you send it you will be prompted to make a $10 donation.
If you prefer, you can also write down this information and send it along with cash or a check (made out to Native Languages of the Americas)
to our postal address:
Native Languages of the Americas
8400 Normandale Lake Boulevard, Suite 920
Minneapolis MN 55437
We will email you three possible Native American words or phrases that match your criteria, along with each word's meaning, language, and pronunciation, and
you can pick the translation that appeals to you the most. Please note that some American Indian languages use modified European alphabets, so they
may have diacritics (accent marks, or other notations above or below some of the letters). You're welcome to ignore these or even use a
simplified spelling that looks better to you if you like. Except for Cree and
Cherokee, Native North American writing systems originally came from
outside the community anyway.
Native American Translations for Tattoos, Stories, and Inscriptions