Question from a reader: Can you please explain the formal introductions that First Nations make?
by Tosh Southwick
May 25, 2011
Question from a reader: Can you please explain the formal introductions that First Nations people often make?
First I want to thank our readers for submitting questions, it really helps guide what we write about so keep em comin.
Formal introductions for First Nations vary from nation to nation but there are many commonalties. It’s something that we are taught by our elder’s and is generally meant to convey a great deal of information in an opening introduction. For the most part First Nations are matrilineal so most of the information shared is regarding the mother’s history.
A formal introduction normally starts out with a name which can often include a person’s traditional name and what it means and who they are named after. This can be followed with an official title that tells people what the person’s role is. Next (and not always in this specific order) people will say what clan they are from and which FN they belong to. The clan tells those listening to the introduction a very important piece of social information that can be used in everything from potlatches to appointed positions within a First Nation. Next the person will relay their familiar history, often through the mother’s line. This information tells the audience where they come from and who they are related to.
I can’t tell you how many time I have formally introduced myself at a meeting or a conference and had people come up to me to tell me we are related.
That pretty much sums up a typical formal introduction. Thanks for the question!