Keams Family

The road home remains the same…

Surname Keams

How does a Navajo family come to have the last name Keams?  Sit back, relax, and let us tell you the story of the name that came to be ours. 

Back in the time when leaders of our great country decided to “educate” the native people, boarding school education was forced on those living in Northern Arizona.  As part of the assimilation process, each student was either given a name by the people in charge of the schools or was asked to select a surname for themselves.  Those in our family that were asked this at the same time chose to have the same last name of Keams, because that was the “option” given to them.  Our family members who were not present at that time ended up with a different last name.  Apparently it did not matter to those in charge what name was taken by the students, as long as they had a way of labeling people.

As time went by, our family realized that there was a canyon in another part of the reservation that was named Keam’s Canyon and not surprisingly, there were also other Navajos and Hopis that had picked the same last name.   Although those families may not be directly related to us, we feel that Keams is a way of thinking and living, so we are connected. 

backyardpics-017-smallBecause of this crazy naming process that the government put our people through, we are also closely related to families with the last names Nezstosie, Yazzie, Blackhair, Colorado, Boone, Begay, and so many others.  We are like the many pebbles lining the sides of the Little Colorado river.  We come in all colors, shapes and sizes.

For clarity and to keep ourselves sane, we rely more on the Navajo Clan system to keep our family history straight.  As such, this site was started by Keams family members who were born to the Bitterwater Clan for the Edgewater Clan.  Our grandfathers’ clans are the Deer Water and Towering House Clans.

Although there is more to this story, you get the idea.  Our name ties us together but it also acts as a bridge to others.

Tell us, are you a Keams or do you know a Keams?  Send us a message and tell us your story.

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