"Saone" [Mar 1956]

Koontz John E John.Koontz at colorado.edu
Mon Aug 7 18:33:13 UTC 2006

On Sun, 6 Aug 2006, Clive Bloomfield wrote:
> "The term Saone was used extensively on the Upper Missouri during the
> period 1800-1850, when referring to the five tribes of northern
> Tetons, the Minneconjous, Sans Arcs, Two Kettles, Hunkpapas, and
> Blackfeet Sioux." (p.87) ... "The origin and meaning of the name
> Saone is not definitely known, for during the 1880's when the
> missionaries were making their inquiries concerning the Teton bands,
> the name had then gone out of common usage, and little reliable
> information could be obtained from the Sioux regarding its meaning.
> The first known use of the name was by Truteau, who recorded in his
> journal that a Sioux band called "Chahony" was expected to arrive at
> the Arrikara village late in the summer of 1795 for the purpose of
> trade. ..."

In this case - "chanony" - we are pretty clearly dealing with s^ahaN, the
term for 'Sioux' in Dhegiha languages.  Omaha-Ponca s^aaN' < *s^ahaN has
lost the medial h, a sporadic shift in Omaha-Ponca.  Another example is
maNa' > *maNha 'bank'.  Medial h not arising from inflecting an h-initial
verb is rather rare.  It isn't lost in ppahe' 'hill'.  However, I'm not
clear that saone is the same form as "chanony."  If it is, it has lost a
dot or accent to change the s to s^ (sh) or s^ (sh) has been written s for
some other reason.  Loss of diacritics only becomes possible with the
introduction of the Riggs orthography, I think.  Before that I would
expect ch in French spellings and sh in English ones.

> [HYDE, George E., "Red Cloud's Folk": 12-13. Norman, Okla., 1937.] It
> is his conclusion that the name was given originally to the northern
> Teton group by the southern Tetons, the Oglalas and Brules, and IN
> IN WOODED AREAS." (p. > 87.)

This sounds like a case of confusing s^a- (sha-) written cha- in French
fashion with c^haN 'wood'.  I'm guessing he was trying to analyze or have
analyzed [c^ha] [(h)o] [ni] based on "chahony" when the form in question
was really more like [s^a][aN][ni] or [s^a][aN][i].  I don't recall seeing
OP s^aaN 'Sioux' anywhere used predicatively, but I suppose OP s^aaN=i
[s^a][aN][i] would be 'he (prox.) is a Sioux; they (pl.) are Sioux'.
> Further, in "SIOUX UNTIL 1850" by Raymond J. DeMallie, in Vol.13, Part 2
> of 2, "Plains", of the Smithsonian Inst.'s "Handbook of North American
> Indians" ( Gen.ed. William C. Sturtevant) (2001), ...

This, of course, is actually the best place to start looking on issues
like this.

> The name Saone was undoubtedly a self designation, BUT THE PRECISE FORM

I suppose part of the problem with form is whether it is sa- or s^a-, and
the rest is with what follows!

> Nicollet [ref.] translated the name as 'whitish people, whose robes are
> always well whitened with white earth', comprised of sa [saN] 'whitish'
> and a putative verb stem 'oni' 'to rub', but that etymology is not
> satisfactory.

This suggests sa-, at least, but the question is how and where he came
upon the term.

> S.R. Riggs [ref.] wrote that the nane was Sanoni-wicasa (that is saN?oni
> wichasha 'Sanoni man' ) and was a nickname that the Brule and Oglala
> formerly applied to the Sans Arcs, Minneconjou, and Hunkpapa. His
> spelling, however does not accord well with other contemporary and
> previous renditions."

Again sa-; question ditto.

> Question : I wonder whether the etymology of the name of the "SaN ona"
> [saN ?ona] band of the Lower Yanktonai, as mentioned by J.O. Dorsey in
> 1897 (quoted in my prev. post), regarding which he there says,
> curiously, that a HUNKPAPA informant told him meant "little [-na]
> whitish [saN-] shooter [-?o-]" , or someone who shot at something white
> (albino buffalo?) and thereby incurred exile, might have been in any way
> connected with "Saone"?  Regards, Clive Bloomfield.

The term may well be connected, but the etymology may be more or less
spurious, too.  Wouldn't the diminutive be =la in Teton?  And, I think it
is generally only =na in Santee after nasal vowels.  Elsewhere it is =daN.
If the form is =na(N)  here, then we'd have to assume saNuN=na(N).  I'm
not sure what the diminutive is in Stoney and Assiniboine at the moment,
though I think it was been explained to me fairly recently by Linda

I think there are maybe two problems with the post 1850 etymologies of the
form.  One is that the individuals asked were not familiar with s^ahaN ~
s^aaN 'Sioux' as a possible explanation; the other is that they were
hearing the term for the first time from the questioner, who wasn't
necessarily clear on how to pronounce it.

One of the things that strikes me about the available literature on Dakota
divisions and band names in general, is how much of it depends on Renville
and one or two others and their theories of how things were to be
analyzed.  Because the same views are expressed in a number of different
published sources, one has the impression they were widely distributed,
but on further consideration, it appears that the majority of the accounts
trace back to the same group of people.  And the number seven seems
suspiciously frequent.

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