The importance of the naming ceremony in tribal cultures

Shannon Crossbear, Native American Elder, explains the significance what we call ourselves and how our names come to be in tribal cultures
The Importance Of The Naming Ceremony In Tribal Cultures
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The importance of the naming ceremony in tribal cultures

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I think naming is a very important thing; what we call ourselves and how our names come to be. In our tribal communities, we have got what we call a 'sacred' name; and in different tribes they get those names at different points in time. I'm going to tell you a little bit about my tribe, which is the Ojibwe Nation. When a child is born, we identify a grandfather or a grandmother - it doesn't have to be biological - who comes and really prays about that child; who sees the child, who knows the family; who really spends some time saying, 'what is it that this child needs?' And, 'Who is this child?' and, "What have they come to do?' So their name is given at that point in time and it really acts as a guide. I'm going to give you an example: my Ojibwe name is Wabagoonis, it means Growing Flower and I got that name when I was very, very young. Sometimes a name will change, but it's a guide for me, and the things that I've learned as a result of carrying that name. Now all my grandchildren have what they call their 'sacred' names. There is Proud When She Dances, there is Granddaughter of the Moon, there is First Star of the Night, my grandson's name is The Voice We Hear, another grandson's name is We Have A Strong Leader, and another one's name is Little Red Bear. So my children and my grandchildren all have their names and those names really help to guide you. As I look at my name, I think, 'What does it mean to be a growing flower? What does it mean to have the weedy creatures that you might succumb to in your life? What does it mean to learn from that name; to have that name help guide you at different stages in your life.

Shannon Crossbear, Native American Elder, explains the significance what we call ourselves and how our names come to be in tribal cultures

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Shannon Crossbear

Native American Elder

Shannon CrossBear is a beautiful, powerful, spiritual Ojibwe and Irish woman. Shannon is an enrolled member of Fort William First Nation of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, which is located in Ontario, Canada.  She has lived on the shores of Lake Superior for the majority of her life and currently resides within the boundaries of the United States in Hovland, Minnesota. Wabagoness, her given name in Ojibwemoin, is a daughter, sister, mother and grandmother. Shannon has been a story teller for an audience of relatives and friends for many years.  As a columnist for the Cook Country News Herald she wrote over 200 hundred article under the heading Mino- Biimadizawin (the good path/life).Her purpose is to demonstrate and promote gentle healing. She expresses her commitment to healing through her business Strongheart Resource Development. Conditions within Ms. CrossBear’s family of origin and community cement her commitment to improving conditions for children, their families and communities.

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