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Becoming Tsimshian: The Social Life of Names

Becoming Tsimshian: The Social Life of Names by Christopher F. Roth

ISBN10: 029598807X
ISBN13: 978-0295988078
Author: Christopher F. Roth
Book title: Becoming Tsimshian: The Social Life of Names
Publisher: University of Washington Press (August 18, 2008)
Language: English
Category: Americas
Size PDF: 1260 kb
Size ePub: 1841 kb
Size Fb2: 1316 kb
Rating: 4.5/5
Votes: 761
Pages: 296 pages

Becoming Tsimshian: The Social Life of Names by Christopher F. Roth

The Tsimshian people of coastal British Columbia use a system of hereditary name-titles in which names are treated as objects of inheritable wealth. Human agency and social status reside in names rather than in the individuals who hold these names, and the politics of succession associated with names and name-taking rituals have been, and continue to be, at the center of Tsimshian life.Becoming Tsimshian examines the way in which names link members of a lineage to a past and to the places where that past unfolded. At traditional potlatch feasts, for example, collective social and symbolic behavior “gives the person to the name.” Oral histories recounted at a potlatch describe the origins of the name, of the house lineage, and of the lineage's rights to territories, resources, and heraldic privileges. This ownership is renewed and recognized by successive generations, and the historical relationship to the land is remembered and recounted in the lineage's chronicles, or adawx.In investigating the different dimensions of the Tsimshian naming system, Christopher F. Roth draws extensively on recent literature, archival reference, and elders in Tsimshian communities. Becoming Tsimshian, which covers important themes in linguistic and cultural anthropology and ethnic studies, will be of great value to scholars in Native American studies and Northwest Coast anthropology, as well as in linguistics.


I am Tsimshian. Before reading this book, I was hungry for information about Tsimshian names, what they meant, how they were inherited, how new names can be created, and how they fit into Tsimshian and American society. This valuable text answered many of these questions, furthering my understanding of my people and our history. Mr. Roth lays out the findings of his in-depth research in a context that is both historically informative and culturally relevant. I recommend this to all Tsimshian people. A MUST READ!

Very hard to read.