Vol. 59 No. 1 (2011)
Research Article

The Sociocultural Significance of Niitsitapi Personal Names: An Ethnographic Analysis

Published 2011-03-01





This article presents a discussion of ethnographic research carried out by the author on the nature and functions of Niitsitapi "Blackfoot" personal names. The research indicates that these names are an integral and inseparable part of traditional Niitsitapi socioculture, and perform a number of important sociocultural functions. Most notably, Niitsitapi personal names seem to function as vehicles of oral knowledge transfer through which Niitsitapi cultural norms, beliefs, and values are conveyed. The traditional Niitsitapi approach to personal naming also appears to be strongly underpinned by certain Niitsitapi cultural concepts, which are reinforced within Niitsitapi communities through continued adherence to traditional personal naming practices. Niitsitapi personal names thus appear to play a crucial role in maintaining Niitsitapi culture and perceptions of cultural identity.


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