What’s in a name? For some, it’s just a name. For others, it represents generations of family history.
Cordelia Qiġnaaq Kellie started using her Iñupiaq name at work a few years ago for practical reasons. In this second installment of a five-part series, Kellie talks about what her Native name tells people about her.
My name is Cordelia. Ulġuniqmiuguruŋa. I am from Wainwright. Tagarookquyaaġlu, James quyaaġlu.
I use my Iñupiaq name for very practical reasons. I was emailing back and forth with a cousin of mine for work. She was working at the North Slope Borough at the time and I was emailing as Cordelia and signing my name as Cordelia. Finally I actually inserted my Iñupiaq name and said, “Alright, see you later. Qiġnaaq.” And she replied, “Oh, it is you! I thought it might be you!”
She didn’t know me as Cordelia. She didn’t know she was emailing with her cousin. It was only when I said “Qiġnaaq” that she knew who she was speaking with and I thought to myself that there must be a lot of other people that might only know me as Qiġnaaq first and Cordelia second. So I added it on Facebook so that if I’m friending somebody, they know who I am.
If I say “Cordelia Kellie” that doesn’t mean anything. It unlocks nothing about me like saying “Qiġnaaq” can because when I use that name, it immediately associates me with the person I was named after and who he was and who my family is.
When you hear “Qiġnaaq” you’re going to know that I’m named after somebody from Wainwright and I have a connection to Wainwright, which is where my family is from. If you say “Qiġnaaq” it’s going to shed light on the fact that I’m Iñupiaq and that I come from a northern region. It’s going to shed light on my relationships and my family connections to 150 people that are closest to me in a way that “Cordelia” is just not going to do.
This is part two of a five-part series: