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  • When my son was born there was really only one name in the running. It was HAWKEYE.

    I remember working late into the night all through high school (on my first generation Apple Macintosh) with reruns of M.A.S.H. playing on a small TV set in the corner. When I was a young man I watched a lot of M.A.S.H. and Cheers. Those were my shows. The actor Alan Alda was Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce.

    I never thought "I'll name my son after Hawkeye Pierce." Instead the name Hawkeye just became part of my vocabulary and a new possibility. With or without M.A.S.H. I knew that it could be a name. And I guess that was enough, because almost 20 years later it resurfaced.

    Of course Hawkeye Pierce was named after the character Nathaniel Bumppo (AKA: Hawkeye) in The Last of The Mohicans, a historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper. In Cooper's other books the same character was called "Natty" Bumppo , La Longue Carabine (The Long Rifle), Straight-Tongue, The Pigeon, Lap-Ear, Deerslayer, Pathfinder, Leatherstocking, and The Trapper. I guess I should tell him he was named after the Cooper character, that way I can call him all those names at some point in his life.

    I think in his teenage years we will change his name to Deerslayer.


    Hawkeye Huey also has another name. It is WAKINYAN (wa-kee-ya). And it was given to him by Rosie Pawnee Leggins, an Oglala Lakota woman who calls me her brother, and who I call my sister. Rosie lives in Manderson, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

    I had know Rosie a long time. When I told her that my wife was pregnant she said, without the slightest hesitation "His name will be Wakinyan."

    "What does it mean?"

    "It means the lightning and thunder."

    I asked her to write it out for me. I didn't really buy it, but I took it with me on that scrap of paper. And when I got home and looked up the word I began to realize the power of the name and I fell in love with it. This too would be his name. And so it was.

    Most accounts told me that it meant "Thunder Being." The Thunder Beings, or Wakinyan Oyate, defies any logical description. They have been described as beings without form. A body which billows and changes form like clouds. They have claws, but no feet; beaks, but no head; wings, but no shoulders; and a voice like thunder, but no throat. In order to remain invisible, Wakinyan cover themselves in robes that are as shapeless as itself, or what we would call clouds. Some large, some small; some black, some white.

    The Wakinyan also live in an anti-clockwise dimension and cannot be understood by ordinary people because they speak backwards. In the Lakota tradition, one of the main purposes of the Wakinyan is to purify the world from all filthy things. They sweep it with wind, wash it with water, or burn it with lightning. They cause all that grows from the ground to flourish and grow leaves, flowers and fruits, and give nourishment to all things that breath. They enjoy the smell of cedar. It is said that cedar trees are never struck by lightning. And they control water in all it's forms.

    Hawkeye Wakinyan Huey is now 2 years old. He is a fierce young boy who lives up to his name.
    He is the billowing storm that rolls across the badlands, he makes thunder with his walking, and lightning comes from his eyes.

    He is my Thunder Being, and he has come and laid me low, and humbled me.

    special thanks to Hin Tamaheca for sharing his knowledge of the Wakinyan
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