What does Nuhubit mean?

How do you choose a business name for an educational game company?

Nuhubit is a local place name.

It’s amazing how hard it is to find a good unused name for a new software business – or probably any business. This even extends to some very obscure ideas. One’s initial impulse is to look for something that conjures the field of the business. For us that’s educational games for phones and tablets, so, early on I searched math books for terms that weren’t already used as the names of software companies. The ones I found were far from recognizable.  I did find one I liked, and even thought of a great logo in a dream (I woke up and drew it on some scratch paper so I wouldn’t forget by morning), but a month or so later when I checked on it again, it was already taken by a new startup that was a few months ahead of us!

It’s tied to community, location, and history.

One idea was that the name somehow tie our business to our community. We are located in Newhall, a former small town that is now one of the half-dozen-or-so areas that comprise the modern city of Santa Clarita, California. We have a number of local geographic features and place names that could make good business names, and due to their locality, they are relatively unique. Following this line of thought, I started considering the connection, not only to place, but to our history as well. The story of California is an interesting one, so there is a lot of material to choose from.

The village of Nuhubit.

At some point I came across the name Nuhubit. Nuhubit was probably a Tataviam village close to where downtown Newhall is now situated. Here is a quote from one place it was mentioned, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Assessment report:

The Tataviam are a Native American group that resided in and around the area encompassing the project site … The name “Tataviam” means, “People who Face the Sun.” The Tataviam belong to the family of Serrano people who migrated down into the Antelope, Santa Clarita, and San Fernando Valleys some time before 450 A.D. They settled into the upper Santa Clara River Drainage. Some Tataviam settlements in the Santa Clarita and upper valleys were Nuhubit (Newhall); Piru-U-Bit (Piru); Tochonanga which is believed to have been located at the confluence of Wiley and Towsley Canyons; and the very large village of Chaguibit, the center of which is buried under the Rye Canyon exit of I-5. The Tataviam also lived where Saugus, Agua Dulce, and Lake Elizabeth are located today. This places the Serrano among the larger “Shoshonean” migration into southern California that occurred 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.

An apocryphal village!

I like the poetic music in the sound of the word. I have to admit that I was also partly attracted to the name Nuhubit because it sounds like a modern made-up computer word, ending with -bit which is a technical term in Computer Science and Information Theory.  Of course, paradoxically, it is actually a very old word tied to our geography and history. I was interested to learn that some historians question the historical existence of Nuhubit, so it may actually be an apocryphal local place name. Fortunately, that doesn’t make it any less interesting! (In fact if it didn’t ever exist, our use of it today reminds me of some of the fascinating fiction of Jorge Luis Borges.)  So far, the main argument I have seen is the lack of multiple reliable sources documenting the existence of the village. To my knowledge, the single surviving primary source of the name is a document referred to as the Van Valkenburgh map:

Van Valkenburgh excerpt w Nuhubit highlighted

That may be insufficient for historians, who have a duty to accurately describe the past to the best of their ability, and to discriminate between that for which there is or isn’t adequate evidence. However, it was an excellent find in our quest for an interesting unused name which provides a link to place and history.

A nice ring.

It has a nice ring to the sound.  It is local, tied to our place and history. It bears an interesting story. It is presently not being used by another business. Perfect.

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