Native American Naming Ceremonies

In our culture, traditionally, one was not named at birth. We were gifted a name at an appropriate age based off of elements specific to the that person. This could include (but not limited to) significant happenings to or by the person, or characteristics that define the person. This name has been defined in many ways among our people. Real Name; Spirit Name; Native Name; Given Name; Gifted Name; etc. Some people even have more than one Gifted Name. Some people can go their whole lives without being named until the end of their time on this Earth.

There are a few number of ways this process begins. One way would be the parents (or the person being named) would request somebody close to the future name recipient in a good and appropriate way to do the honors of naming them. (Some believe that parents are overly biased to the proper characteristics that go into naming their own children). Another would be perhaps somebody would offer to gift another a name. Either way calls for meditation and prayer.

On the days of the ceremonies, the families and friends of the Tribal Community would gather in the Sacred Circle, pray, and allow the gifting member to announce out loud, for the first time, to the Spiritual Leader and his or her assisting apprentices and partners, the gifted name, as well as why that name fits the person being named. After in which, the gifted member would be escorted around the circle, as this name was announced and introduced to the 12 Levels of creation, and the Creator.

Gifts were appropriately given by the recipient and/or their family; the Spiritual Leader for conducting the ceremony, the giver of the name, and to all those who shared this day in form of a feast primarily provided by the named and their family. The named usually changed into a new regalia to symbolize the birth of their identity and their commitment to living up to their gifted name, as well as to the Tribal people.

Though today’s society requires people to have a name shortly after birth, these ways have not been abandoned. These ceremonies still occur in our Tribal Community during our Gatherings. There are many prerequisites that would make people eligible to attend and participate in such ceremonies.

Additionally, it is appropriate that names are exclusive. Thus, one of the prerequisites are to check the naming database to be sure that nobody identifies with the name to be gifted PRIOR to the ceremony.

This list can be found here. (For the convenience of people scheduled to give names.)(Updated October 2019)