Names and Songs are Private Property

Generally speaking, in the Yukon, personal names in First Nations languages are private property. They are greatly valued and have profound cultural importance. Great care is given in the way names are preserved and passed down. Often, a new born will receive the name of an ancestor. The name may be conferred in a ceremony by a family elder. No one has a right to give away a name except the family which owns it.

The Yukon Native Language Centre frequently receives requests for aboriginal names for children or pets. The centre does not have the right to pass on names in this way and does not do so. It is possible to provide a word from a First Nations language, which is not used as a name in the culture, but which may be attractive to non-natives as a name for a child or pet. For instance, since no native person would be called "Snowflake", YNLC can provide the word "Snowflake" to be used as a name without violating any traditional rules, practices or values. The page Suggested Names offers some words like this.

The Centre works constantly with elders and speakers of First Nations Languages. Often, on request from the elders, personal names may be collected and transcribed in the modern alphabet. Sometimes these names will appear in the proceedings from literacy workshops. Such names only appear by permission of their owners. The intention is to honour the names by preserving them. These names may not be used by any other person in any way, without permission of their owners.

First Nations songs are also private property. No one may perform or record them without permission of their owner. In a sense, Yukon First Nations names and songs are copyrighted.