Navarana

Navarana Mequpaluk

Origin: Greenlandic
Gender: Female
Meaning: "One Who Alternates Between Parties"
Pronunciation: N/A
Other Forms: Navaranaaq, Navarapaluk, Navagiaq, Navarat

Recently I've developed a fascination with Greenlandic names, mostly because they are so underrepresented, and also because of the beautiful meanings, for example Qupanuk (snow bunting), Sikkersoq (bud, sprout, or blossom), Tukuummeq (wild thyme) for girls and Aqissiaq (ptarmigan chick), Nanoq (polar bear), and Uvdloriaq (star) for boys. This name is no exception, and comes with a fascinating story, too.

Navarana, an Inuit Greenlandic woman started out life as Mequpaluk, which means "little feather", before choosing to call herself Navarana. Navarana comes from naverar, "to trade", "to borrow", but, in more poetic fashion, is translated as "One Who Alternates Between Parties". 

A hard worker who had known famine and heartbreak, Navarana had lost a little brother during an epidemic which left her people starving and ill. Her mother, still nursing the brother, had lost her milk because of it, and eventually killed the little boy, seeing no hope to keep him fed. Navarana would eat grass and chew on animals skins in desperation, until she was taken in by her grandparents. In 1910 Danish explors Knud Rasmussen and Peter Freuchen would establish the Thule Trading Station in Cape York, Greenland. Peter, seeing Navarana and thinking her poor and hungry, gave her a piece of bread which she later paid him back by sewing him a pair of gloves. In 1911, when Navarana was 13, she married Peter Freuchen, and would later accompany him on his many expeditions, and give him two children, a boy, Mequsaq (little feather), and a daughter, Pipaluk, (little possession). Unfortunately, Navarana died during the Spanish influenza, aged only 23. Freuchen would go on to name a fjord in far northern Greenland after her.

The name Navarana is apparently from Inuit mythology. The Navarana of myth was a woman who alternated between two tribes which brought, eventually, brought discord. In Greenland, the two tribes are commonly Greenlanders and Norsemen.

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