no image

Reconsidering the Last Name At Birth Field for American Indians (and anyone else) who never had and never will have a Last Name at Birth

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 29 Apr 2020 [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
This page has been accessed 128 times.

I suggest revisiting the policy of inserting a band, tribe, or nation into the Last Name at Birth field for American Indians who never had and never will have a LNAB. The policy is disrespectful, and - perhaps more importantly for genealogists - it creates false information. The current programming and policies exclude people who do not fit the boxes. Dakota can be a tribe, and it can also be a real last name, and I have seen made-up stuff become facts over time. It doesn't seem to me to be a programming impossibility. The entry form already has a radio button for no middle name; why can't a radio button be added for no surname? (And - of course - it would be wise to include an explanation that this is different from unknown surname. Actually why not add a radio button for unknown surname?) The system already indexes profiles with the surname "unknown." Why can't it index on "no surname" as well (without adding "no surname" text to the profile)? As it is, there are inconsistent and sometimes goofy (or sadly disrespectful) solutions being entered. A profile for Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake - which was held up as a sample - actually had Sitting in the first name field and Bull in the last name field until I pointed it out. American Indians deserve a better solution.

This proposal has evolved. Since completing programming to accommodate a null LNAB field is completely possible but improbable in the near future due to limited programming resources, the proposal now is to enter "No Surname" in the LNAB field for those who did not have a LNAB.

This is an "orphaned" profile — there's no Profile Manager to watch over it. Please adopt this profile.

  • Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images.
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
  • Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)
Comments: 5

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.

First let me say that I completely agree that the LNAB requirement is extremely problematic. I have many profiles that are not properly labeled because of the inflexibility of the WikiTree database. In fact, I have a profile for my Choctaw 5x great grandfather that just this past weekend had the profile changed to a last name he never used. Frustrating!

My suggestion would be to create a new proposal of changing the way WikiTree assigns the locator to the profile. The biggest issue with the database is that the profile locator is a combination of LNAB and an incremental number ie Smith-1, Smith-2 etc. Having each profile be identified with a random identifier (such as how FamilySearch generates for each profile xnxn-xnx) would make LNAB moot in regard to the database. Then the LNAB field could be easily repurposed and/or completely optional, which would make a required "No Surname" or "Unknown" moot as well.

I know this is short on details. Feel free to reply and ask questions.

posted by Ronald Prentice
I don't agree with the mandatory LNAB field, because in Canada records going back in some cases to Late 1500's and through to at least late 1700's and in some cases even in the 1800's there are quiet a few 1st Nations people that still had just their given names, many didn't get baptized many refused baptism, and refused the names that were "issued to them" when census takers were told to give them names based on what their names actually meant (unless the name was wrong ( "Man Afraid of his horse" is an example wrong version of this persons' name, caused by the census takers and name changers). The Lakota still know this name is incorrect, and will correct anyone who states it in this "wrong" manner. There are actually foul and /or derogatory names that do not hold to their original meanings thanks to "issued names thru flubbed up translations w/census takers etc, (BUT in some cases the Census takers Actually did give them the foul and derogatory names that they the census taker(s) thought their names were closest too (gasp).

Now that on wikitree standards alone will be enough to cauz issues with 1st names and some last names... but for those where it was turned into their last names, well lets just say its' gunna make for some interesting topics of conversations on wt, or for those unaware of how these "bad" names came about, its' going to be very offensive language & g2g will be hearing about the "horrible fake profiles with bad language in the first and last name fields. I've seen the documents of some of these not so nice new names, & have also seen in records where some refused to just answer questions for recensement purposes, and gave funny names like levmelone, menohafone. lol

To add to this, The whole LNAB, causes a massive stumbling blocks for those who may have found a source record to some indigenous ancestors but they don't have last names AND the source doesn't state what Tribe, Nation, etc.. just referred to them as indien or indian in US, Sauvage, Sauvagese, Bois Brule. So someone looking for a possible Lakota Dahkota Nacoda may search by these terms, but in the time period in question the person, was only listed a savage, or esclave, or melanges, Brule or Bois Brule or indien listed as "savage -interpretor, or guide," or "hunter". There are a lot of ways tribes in LNAB don't fit, nevermind that its not appropriate at all, and yes in the future, Ojibwa/Ojibway, Chippeway/Chippewayan, could end up becoming what is thought in the future to be the actual LNAB. There are enough in records, called Marie Savage, Michel Puants, or Puanto, Montagne, Saulteux and the list goes on. In many cases these "so-called last names in the records changed over time, to something else, either no last name or some other term, again, indien, esclave, servant, etc.

When I first joined, and signed up, I almost didn't all because of the LNAB field. My birth last name was changed legally as a child by my choice as a child for very good reasons. But according to LNAB field.. (it was not an adoption so the LNAB would still stand for record purposes.) BUT for me, the person who raised me should be the LNAB ...blood doesn't make a parent, neither does a matching name. Speaking of which.. names within some of the tribes are carried forward, gifted to another, when someone passes on. the person who takes the name may or may not be blood related (ie: son, brother nephew, daughter, sister, etc), this new person could be someone who was given the name because they "followed in the others' footsteps" (ie: became the next holy person or medicine person, or did something heroic or that would make them deserving of carrying the deceased ones' name. To add more confusion there was a time period when the fathers 1st name became the childrens' Last name. so hows that for messing with last names and how they don't fit the mold created. The reason I bring up the 1st names is because, what some don't realize is that some of these 1st names are easily findable as "full names" on places like Family Search. "Medicine Crow" was his name..and his descendants names over generations... no last name.. but on Family Search to find him the search is .. Medicine Crow as in 1st and last name. Name broken up, bam results show up. pretty simple solution to the LNAB if it could work on here I dunno how.. but maybe there is a way.

When it comes to multiple profiles of same person, it happens all thru wikitree, and I don't think it should be a defining factor.. I've found plenty of my french ancestors with multiple multiple profiles spelt 5 or 6 or more different ways, most likely because each census taker spelt what they heard, thus, same families living in different areas end up with different spellings same last name. Canada is loaded with these name spelling headaches, and its worse there because every family also had Marie, Joseph, Francois, Catherine and a few others that were their favorites, so 2 brothers get married, one marries a Marie Catherine, the other marries a Catherine Marie, and their kids well they each have between 7 and 12 sometimes more, and most of the names and ages, are really similar..sooo close it can take years to untangle who belongs to who, if there are records missing (burned villages, burned churches, etc).

Maybe a box could just be created for all the ppl (because we know there are other countries that are struggling with this LNAB thing too, its been brought up in G2g by others that are not indigenous of US or Canada as well. There should be at least a box that could just be clicked or check-marked- (no LNAB). And maybe an Additional Box that just says.. (if indigenous, Name Country of Origin ,& Tribal Nation(s) if known)

Sorry if this is all over the place scattered, not very clear thinking tonight, hope I made some of the points I was attempting to make.

posted by Arora (G) Anonymous
Thank you, for your thoughtful and heart-felt response to the issue of LNAB for American Indians/Native Americans/First Nations. It often feels - to me - that some (not all) wikitree-ers who voice their opinions loudest on this issue have no close family members affected by the LNAB policy. I thank you for helping everyone understand the complicated issue.
posted by [Living D]
I disagree from a practicality viewpoint. I have found Native American profiles with three or four duplicates, all with different versions of a single name. As you noted, parts of a single name are frequently broken into the first and last name fields. We have lots people with an LNAB of “Indian” too. Having a single LNAB with one spelling for each tribe or nation vastly reduces the number of incorrectly named and duplicate profiles for Native Americans. Given the general lack of agreement on spelling of names from languages which were never written in the roman alphabet I think this is the only way to make these folks easily found in a search.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
It is not an easy thing to do, but it is the right thing to do.
posted by [Living D]