Chesapeake and Chasadee and Charlie

I have two daughters and one son Chesapeake(6), Chasadee(4), and Charlie(2). The other day somebody made a comment about how naming my daughter Chesapeake was very disrespectful considering I am not of Native American heritage. I had not thought of it as disrespectful when I'd named her so it threw me off guard. Then the same person mentioned that my fourth child that I am pregnant with at the moment had better be named with a 'ch' so I could 'keep what ever pattern going that I had started.' and the lady also mentioned that I had better 'think up a weird name in case it's a girl.' All of these insults hit me at one time and I wasn't sure how to react. Is naming my daughter Chesapeake disrespectful? I thought that it was the same as naming a child Dakota or something like that. And are my childrens names concidered 'weird'? Is it weird or cheesy that all of their names start with 'ch'? I named Chesapeake first, then thought that Chasadee would compliment that nicely. Then Charlie came along and my husband liked the name. We thought that it went well with the girls's names. Now my future baby that's due in three months is coming and I'm debating the name we'd choosen. It's a girl and we thought that the name Charisee was beautiful. Now I'm having doubts about it. What should I do?


March 26, 2014 3:49 PM

I won't speak to your other questions, but I will note that in some quarters the name Dakota is considered disrespectful.  Obviously both Chesapeake and Dakota are contemporary American place names derived from Native American languages.  They differ in that the original form of Chesapeake was itself a place name in Algonquian, while Dakota was and is the name of one of the peoples who form the Sioux nation.  IMO it is thus more disrespectful for people, especially those who have no connection to Native Americans, to use the name Dakota than to use Chesapeake, that is, to appropriate than name of a people to whom one does not belong, than to use a word meaning village by the river or some such which is what I think Chesapeake supposedly means.

That being said, the somebody who spoke to you needs to learn not to mind other people's business and to keep her mouth shut.  At various events I am introduced to my four-year-old grandson's classmates and playmates, and all too frquently when I hear their names, my immediate thought is OMG, that's appalling, but I would never never ever take it upon myself to voice that thought to the parents.  When I was a girl, admittedly quite a long time ago now, I was taught that one does not ever make personal remarks of any nature.  If my mother had heard what that person said to you, she would have passed out on the floor.  People choose their children's names for their own reasons, and other people ought not to chime in with their opinions, positive or negative, unless those opinions are specifically solicited, and even then tact is in order.

March 28, 2014 2:52 PM

"That being said, the somebody who spoke to you needs to learn not to mind other people's business and to keep her mouth shut. "


She sounds like a very rude and unpleasant individual.  If you have to interact with her again, I'd suggest practicing phrases like "Hm. Very interesting."  "Huh."  "Well, I'll think about it".  They don't give her anything to latch onto from you, and you don't need to defend yourself to rude twits like that.

April 26, 2014 6:40 PM

Thank you so much. You're very helpful!

March 26, 2014 6:41 PM

Wow, has online semi-anonymity completely bred basic manners out of people? I wouldn't even comment on Cohen as a given name on a real-life baby, and that one's a truly ignorant choice, offensive to many. (I wouldn't say "nice name", either, just something like "oh", which people who know me would be able to interpret as severe disapproval -- I love to discuss names -- but nobody who knows me would choose Cohen, so I think I'm safe.)

As Miriam wrote, Chesapeake is just a placename, so it's no more disrespectful than naming a child Logan or Brooklyn.

Your naming style is very different from mine, so I can't really comment usefully on your choice of Charisee, except to note that I'm not certain how to pronounce it: is it like Charity, with an 's' in place of the 't'? I'd also worry somewhat about confusion between siblings named Chasadee and Charisee: the two look very similar, and may sound rather alike, too. (I'm guessing that Chasadee is like Cassidy with a 'Ch'.)

In the end, any name given with love and thoughtfulness will serve a child well, so the answer to your last question is to ignore the ill-mannered boor, and choose names you like for the children you love.

April 26, 2014 6:39 PM

Thank you for everything! And it's Charisee, as in Charise. We just put an extra 'e' at the end.

March 29, 2014 1:13 AM

I don't think your naming choices are disrespectful at all. The person who took issue with it is disrespectful. They have no idea why you named your child that.

Are they are suggesting that it is cultural apropriation? Here, in the states, people are very aware of what was done to Native American culture through European settlement. People have come to respect and revere these, all but lost, cultures. Many are helping to keep what is left alive. Many are advocates for teaching Native American history in schools. Cultural appropriation, to me, is using cultural symbols in mockery or out of ignorance of the culture it represents. To give your child a name that commemorates that culture is anything but mockery or ignorance. It does not disrespect them, it honors them.

Aside from that, people often choose names that do not reflect their heritage. Sometimes they have an interest in a certain culture, literary, musical, or visual work, names that are obscure to many but popular in a field of work or interest they share, or they just like the sound of a name. I don't see anything wrong with it. How many surnames have you heard used for girls and boys where there is no familial connection? Emerson is often a daughter, not son, of no one named Emery. It's been completely shread of it's meaning through this kind of use but it's uber popular. Is that disrespectful? 

No. You're children's names are lovely, interesting, and honor the culture you selected them from. The person who took issue rather than enquire and open discussion is a bit of an ass. 

Charisse is beautiful and I think you should use it. Side note: I've never heard of Charisee. Would you pronounce it cha-rees-ee? It is a lovely choice, but I wonder if you are thinking of Charisse. Either way, ignore the haters. No matter what you name your child there will always be someone that doesn't like it. 

April 26, 2014 6:43 PM

Thank you for all of your input it's very helpful. We pronounce Charisee just like Charise.

March 29, 2014 8:18 AM

As I get older, I have to confess that I'm starting to mix up everyone's names. I call my husband by my brothers' names, my nieces by their cousins' names, etc. And none of these names sound anything alike. If you have that tendency at all, you might want to come up with an alternative to Charisee. Although I think it fits really well with your other kids' names, it fits almost too well! Chasidee and Charisee would become the same name in my addlepated state. Maybe you're one of the lucky ones who isn't afflicted by that, however!

April 26, 2014 6:41 PM

Thank you for input. It's been very helpful.