Ethnography of Naming as a Religious Identity in Inuvialuit and Gwich’in Cultures

This research will take an ethnographic approach to understand the practices of naming children in Inuvialuit and Gwich’in cultures. Naming practices play a spiritual role in the Arctic and can give us a better understanding of syncretism in the North by connecting traditional belief systems, Christian spirituality, and modern multiculturalism. Northern naming practices can provide an insight into the religious identities and spiritual practices of the people within these cultures. The connecting points of Christianity and animism, as well as the concepts of reincarnation and shamanism, are reflected in naming practices. The afterlife traditions connect the living and the dead and keep families and communities very close in the Arctic. Through the lens of the Christian belief system, this research will also address such questions as indigenization of religious practices, and religious reconciliation. On a personal level, this research will allow me to reflect on both Christian and Inuvialuit religious traditions and practices, as my daughter is half Russian, and half Inuvialuit; for her to understand both religious traditions better when she grows up.

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