In the English language, the word "elder" generally means an older person.

For the Ĩyãħé Nakoda, a person may be older and very wise but may not be an Elder. Also, a person may not be older but may be an Elder.

The word "Elder" has a more specific meaning in Ĩyãħé Nakoda culture.

An Elder of the Ĩyãħé Nakoda is a male or female that has demonstrated, usually from an early age, a special aptitude for a certain cultural characteristic. This person is then groomed through life by a knowledgeable Elder to ultimately become an expert. In this way, continuity and accuracy have been maintained through succeeding generations.

Elders have different knowledge specialties and sometimes more than one. They all share common characteristics of wisdom, humility, and patience, plus a willingness to listen, advise, and share their knowledge when appropriate.

An Elder may have been taught the ancestral ways to harvest particular plants to create medicines for healing purposes.

Another may have been taught spiritual beliefs and practices including traditional songs, prayers, ceremonies, and observances.

Yet another may have been immersed in the Ĩyãħé Nakoda language and the legends.

Some Elders have been taught ancient traditions and the way of life of the forefathers in a practical sense. They are able to associate how these traditions remain compatible in contemporary times, and provide guidance and inspiration to those seeking to affirm Ĩyãħé Nakoda identity through their heritage.

Elders learned to live their lives as an example for others. Highly respected, they are teachers of the young, counsellors for adults, and advisors to the leaders.

Not only are Elders concerned about the well-being of individuals and families, but also about the Ĩyãħé Nakoda communities as a whole.


All words in the Ĩyãħé Nakoda language that are written on this page are included in the Language menu segment for you to hear how they are correctly pronounced.