Let’s say you want a nature name for a daughter. The list is long, ranging from the ladylike Lily to the modern Skye. The boys’ list is, well, shorter. Here’s one that ought to work.
Thanks to Emilie for suggesting Sequoia as our Baby Name of the Day.
Sequoia was a man before he was a tree. Born in 1760, he would’ve spelled his name Ssiquoya. In the English-speaking world, he answered to George.
A handful of Native American names have filtered into wider use, like Winona, but most are lost to obscurity, or so tied to a single figure that it is hard to imagine your daughter answering to Pocahontas.
We remember Sequoia for a staggering intellectual achievement. He worked as a silversmith, a role that brought him into contact with many settlers. Apparently he liked the settlers’ system of writing so much that he invented one for his native tongue. The Cherokee alphabet was initially met with uncertainty, but by 1825 had officially been adopted. It allowed the Cherokee people to transition to widespread literacy in just a few decades – that’s lightning speed. The Cherokee Phoenix became the first newspaper published in Cherokee in 1828. Most alphabets evolved over time, with the input of many. The fact that Sequoia’s alphabet worked was no small feat.
It’s not certain how Sequoia got his name. Some link it to the Cherokee word siqua – hog. But it almost doesn’t matter. Say Sequoia today, and most people will think of the tree.
A sequoia is a redwood, usually a sequoiadendron to bust out the genus, found only in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Sequoia National Park was established in 1890, and yes, you really can drive through a felled giant sequoia. A tree fell back in 1937, blocking a road; it was so massive, that rather than move it, park workers created Tunnel Log instead.
The tree had lots of names over the years. It wasn’t until 1939 that botanist John Buchholz officially classified the tree properly. But John Muir referred to the tree as King Sequoia around 1870.
Nancy tells us that 14 boys received the name in 2009. Even more girls were called Sequoia – a total of 71. Nameberry puts it on their list of Tree Names suitable for Girls.
Maybe I’m overly influenced by the original Sequoia, but I can’t help think that Sequoia is gender-neutral, maybe even a smidge more masculine. The mammoth Toyota SUV available for the last decade probably makes me think this is suitable a boy name, too. The -ia ending, of course, fits in with feminine favorites like Amelia and Olivia.
Overall, Sequoia stands tall as a nature name with deep and meaningful roots.