For me the Naming Ceremony is special because it is done for many reasons. First, the family giving a name will select the name from their own family roster of names belonging to a revered member who has passed or a new name to be selected by the patriarch of the family. The name is usually prepared in advance and given in ceremony so that everyone from that day on will know and call him or her by that name.
The ceremony is held when a young person has achieved a goal or reached a milestone in his or her young life—completing an armed forces boot camp, for example, or gaining admission to a college. A medicine person or tribal leader, someone held in high esteem by the family, is asked to do the honor. It’s done at an event, usually a pow-wow (the organizing committee is asked in advance to allow the ceremony). The individual being honored is counseled by the giver of the name as to what the name means, why it was chosen, from whom it came if there was a previous holder, and most importantly the responsibilities the recipient will bear from that day onward. The giver then prays to the four directions, holding an eagle feather and gesturing also to the ground for Mother Earth, and to the heavens for Father Sky. After the prayer, the person would then be called by the name selected and the giver would announce to all, that from that day forward, that person would be known as to that name. An eagle feather would then be placed in their hair, and an Honor Song is sung in their honor. They are then accompanied and introduced to those present by dancing once around the ceremonial circle of the pow-wow.
Have a question for Sonny? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask N NDN” and we’ll see that it’s answered.