By Christopher F. Roth
The Tsimshian humans of coastal British Columbia use a method of hereditary name-titles within which names are handled as gadgets of inheritable wealth. Human service provider and social prestige stay in names instead of within the people who carry those names, and the politics of succession linked to names and name-taking rituals were, and stay, on the middle of Tsimshian life.
Becoming Tsimshian examines the way names hyperlink contributors of a lineage to a previous and to the locations the place that prior spread out. At conventional potlatch feasts, for instance, collective social and symbolic habit “gives the individual to the name.” Oral histories stated at a potlatch describe the origins of the identify, of the home lineage, and of the lineage's rights to territories, assets, and heraldic privileges. This possession is renewed and famous via successive generations, and the ancient dating to the land is remembered and mentioned within the lineage's chronicles, or adawx.
In investigating the several dimensions of the Tsimshian naming procedure, Christopher F. Roth attracts largely on fresh literature, archival reference, and elders in Tsimshian groups. Becoming Tsimshian, which covers very important topics in linguistic and cultural anthropology and ethnic experiences, can be of serious price to students in local American reports and Northwest Coast anthropology, in addition to in linguistics.
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Additional info for Becoming tsimshian: The social life of names
In each case the name bespeaks descent of a lineage from the original Gamayaam whose peregrinations figure in the well-known Gispwudwada adawx of the migration from Temlaxam, the ancient “Prairie Town” on the upper Skeena River. 4 Multiple occurrences of “the same name,” then, affirm historical and ultimately genealogical relatedness among houses within a clan. Ceremonial, political, and economic relations among villages throughout Names as People 35 northwestern British Columbia and southeastern Alaska (embracing the Gitksan, Haida, Haisla, NisgaЈa, Tsimshian, Tlingit, WetЈsuwetЈen, and others) often follow such lines of historical relationship.
Eventually I was able to do similarly detailed genealogical surveys of each of the Tsimshian communities. My work for the Kitsumkalum Treaty Office is ongoing, most of it on a pro bono basis, and it has come to include producing detailed research reports on specific topics in Kitsumkalum genealogy, history, and social structure. The Kitsumkalum Treaty Office involves the Kitsumkalum hereditary chiefs in every step of its treaty negotiations, and the Kitsumkalum Treaty Office’s genealogy files have been consulted extensively by the people of Kitsumkalum and its neighboring village, Kitselas, and have been instrumental in many decisions in feast-hall politics.
Anthropologists have often grouped the Tsimshian, Gitksan, and 22 Introduction NisgaЈa together for purposes of describing features of their social and political systems, but the lumping has caused some confusion. At times in this book I draw on the Gitksan and NisgaЈa ethnographic record the better to understand the Tsimshian. However, I am always explicit about doing this and am alert to the national and local differences that members of the three nations themselves are always quick to point out, such as more paramount chieftaincy and a greater political role for the tribal village among the coastal Tsimshian, more de facto moiety arrangements in the Gitksan villages, and less clan-to-clan adoption inland than on the coast.
Becoming tsimshian: The social life of names by Christopher F. Roth