Many years ago my friends, Kent and Genie Dittmer, and I decided that we should choose Indian names for each other. Genie and I both chose the Bear as being most representative of Kent. I wrote this about him:

"If we were Indians, Kent would be strongly individualistic, living in a spacious log cabin conveniently located at a point where many trails intersected. People, both old friends as well as strangers, would frequent his home. He would be thought of as a bear: rugged, strong, vigorous and loving. It would be known that Kent was a man of great knowledge, whose insatiable need to learn had led him on many journeys. He would be considered a man of great insight. His love of people and of life, and his uncanny ability to care for (as well as to cure) others would earn him his name: Bear-Man, Protector and Healer."

Kent and I decided on the name Earth Mother for Genie. I wrote:

"Genie would be strongly family-oriented, living in a close-knit village populated almost exclusively by relatives. She would find joy in constantly interacting with family members, and she would be known as a nurturer. Wounded animals as well as little ones with hurt feelings would be tenderly cared for and loved by Genie. Her strong need to right injustice, her natural approach to life and her love of children would earn her the name: Earth-Mother, Defender of All Living."

Turtles I later found out that the symbol for Earth-Mother is the turtle, hence I often buy Genie things with a turtle motif and Kent things with a bear motif. Kent and Genie chose the name Hummingbird for me. Kent at first chose the name Sparkling Brook but decided that Genie's choice of Hummingbird was a good one, especially since I liked it.

Hummingbird Kent wrote: "Sparkling Brook, hummingbird woman, Kathi....The first impression is of a gem, sparkling with great worth and beauty. A gem...but something more. Are they drops of dew which soften the corners or are they tears? What name can include the magic of such a sparkling personality and such depth? The power of endurance changes the jewel from a single jewel to an impossibly long string which is continually moving and changing. The idea becomes more liquid and easily evolves into a stream. The stream fits the personality more easily in that it is shaped by rocks of pain and pressure but continues moving forever. Lastly, to make the name bearable and shareable, I try to add a touch of humor - babbling Brook."

We have often connected with each other through our Indian identities. It has been very fun for us. A few years ago Genie wrote the following to me:

"Kathi...poet of love poems, impatient passion, capacity on hold, uncommon depths of feeling, verbal, articulate and organizer of words and thoughts, solitary enough to dream, to hope, to you nature is a kinsman to be nurtured and appreciated, curious traveler searching the world to know its beauty and to discover its people, the all-illusive soul mate always just out of reach, thoughtful, giving friend, with lasting power, uncommon faith and communication abilities with the world to come, musical rhythm with a Celtic beat, caring, reaching daughter for her families from the past, mother of independence and strength: giving love, freedom and faith, caught trying to fix the world, as if to control the flight of butterflies, one level above practical, seeing things for a time when needs are met, living for today, sensuously savoring the feel of it, grieving the losses. You are no stranger to sorrow and relate to others who feel it. Loyal, logical, laughing and striving---feathering the nest for the time to come--Hummingbird--Kathi

Kent added: "Hi, Kathi - this is dum dum Kentie Pooh - after reading what Genie writes - I feel a bit inadequate-so, uh - hi dhere girlie! When yer droolin in da korner - mayhaps I can drool a bit witch ya - hunh? Actually your insight on life is deep and beautiful. I'm not quite so poetic as Genie, but to me your personality has several underlying currents - and just like the river currents, they can cause eddies and pull you in. Your surface is bubbly and "hummingbird" like. The really fun and interesting thing about those Indian names we gave each other so long ago is that they all apply only to the surface of all of our personalities. And they still apply. Your hidden pain and sorrow have rarely come through. Genie's moniker "Earth-mother" certainly never applies to one who laughs and giggles with her children every evening. Oops, maybe it does. Well, anyway, no one would suspect the hummingbird of the depths which I know your emotions have seen."

Indian name-giving has spread from Kent & Genie to include other friends and family members. My brother, John, is White Buffalo. My son, Garth, is Eagle and my son, Greg, Hawk. My friend, Gary, is Wolf. Two other friends, Sonja and Nancy, are Star Maiden and Dream Catcher, respectively.