The two meanings of wakan.

Sky Campbell sky at LEGENDREADERS.COM
Wed Nov 6 03:59:57 UTC 2013

Same here.  I'm on the lookout for any cognate sources so I can compare them to Otoe-Missouria and the Comparative Siouan Dictionary sounds like a great place to start.  So any suggestions (digital or print) would be greatly appreciated.


Jill, yea, I know that the "waxo-" and "waka-" is a stretch.  It was something that crossed my mind since I've seen "x" and "k" sometimes interchanged for some words (k'o/x'o (thunder) and nax'ų/nak'ų (listen/hear)).  I figured it was worth looking into :).


The term "waxobrį" has been a mystery to me (no pun intended).  I've been told by a tribal member that waxobrį refers to a person and waxoñitą refers to "non-people" (I'm not sure animate vs inanimate is necessarily accurate here) such as objects, buildings, etc.  However that explanation doesn't match up with all of the names with waxoñitą in them.


When you mention "Mr. FawFaw, are you talking about William (Bill) FawFaw?  I haven't seen waxobrį for his name.  Just Wanashe/Wanase (Take Away/Take Away from Them).  Where is that name listed?  I'm very curious to see it (naturally!).  Speaking of which (yet another of my tangents!), Maximilian lists "wanase" (uå-nåssé) as meaning "encircle" or "shut up" which has me wondering about the historical figure "The Surrounder" or "The Encircler" (I believe he had the nickname "The Bullet" (La Balla??)) which is spelled (among several ways) "Waronesan."  I'm wondering if these terms are related somehow.  Perhaps the "ro-" might be "by hand" (ru-) but then you'd have to flip the e and a vowels to "force the fit" and having to do that raises a red flag in my mind.  But still, those translations of "encircle" has me curious about these terms.


Ok, back on track...


Bob, I'm trying to digest all of that cognate information you posted LOL.  At this point nothing jumps out at me beyond what "might be related" which is incredibly subjective on my part.  Perhaps given time when my mind has had some time to work on this a bit more a more reliable pattern will emerge in my mind.  Time will tell.  But in the meantime, that gron/grongron is going to bug the heck out of me :).




From: Siouan Linguistics [mailto:SIOUAN at] On Behalf Of Greer, Jill
Sent: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 8:34 PM
Subject: Re: The two meanings of wakan.


thanks, Bob!  Actually,  I only have the old print-out version  of the Comparative Dictionary that you made for Louanna and me in the early 90's.  How would I go about getting the recent real thing?  There may be others on the List who also would enjoy the wealth of data there… 





On Nov 1, 2013, at 5:09 PM, "Rankin, Robert L." <rankin at KU.EDU> wrote:

Yes, waxobriN is a derived form shared with Mandan and some other languages.  The root is *xo:pe 'sacred'.  *Waxope 'something sacred' plus *riN 'be of class membership'. 


Most Siouanists received a copy of the Comparative Siouan Dictionary.  If you have one, you can check all these forms out by looking up the various entries for SACRED.  There are several terms under this meaning and they will explain much.


Jill is right, These changes in meaning likely relate to the interesting mounds found in formerly Algonquian- and Siouan-speaking regions along the Ohio River.  This is probably verified by the fact that there is an apparent Tutelo 'snake' cognate, "wageni", from the far-eastern end of the area.  You can see this in the appropriate cognate set.


Please feel free to consult the dictionary.  Its use is not limited to me, you know.  David's NSF and NEH grants, all the collections and editorial work were intended for all of us to use.  Enjoy.





From: Siouan Linguistics [SIOUAN at] on behalf of Greer, Jill [Greer-J at MSSU.EDU]

Hi, All!

Sky,  there is also a waxobriN I believe,  (stress on second syllable)  meaning sacred/mysterious/even frightening in connotation,  and the name of the famous Mr. FawFaw who had started the 19th century Dance Society/religion came up in discussions of the meaning of this word, since he was a rather unique and spiritually powerful person. 


Trying to relate a waxo- to wakhaN seems like a bit of a stretch to me.  I would think that there could be many roots that relate to different senses of being holy or sacred,  rather than trying to relate them phonologically.  That being said,  it does make me wonder if the sound symbolism of stops in words related to color and noise might also apply to the spiritual realm.  Has anyone found a parallel for that semantic domain in any other Siouan languages? 


Think also about concepts like awe and awe-full >awful in English,  great snakes do inspire awe (fear, dread, etc) in me,  and according to some recent scientific studies,  there may be a genetic component to that fear!  Venomous snake bites can still cause permanent nerve damage today, even when people have anti-venom available. 


Relating to what Bob said about the Otoe, Ioway, and Sac & Fox…  It’s not so far to the Great Serpent Mound of Adena/Hopewell times in Ohio comes to mind,  as well as rattlesnake iconography in the SE ceremonial artifacts.  War bundles might include rattlesnake rattles, too.  (Remember the NMAI, Sky?). 


Interesting stuff! 



This email may contain identifiable personal information that is subject to protection under state and federal law. This information is intended for the use of the individual named above. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of the contents of this information is prohibited and may be punishable by law. If you have received this electronic transmission in error, please notify us immediately by electronic mail (reply). 

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Siouan mailing list