Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples™

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First Nation Protocol on Traditional Territory

Posted by Bob Joseph on Feb 6, 2012 8:31:00 AM

When working on or within the traditional territory of a First Nation there is protocol to follow. It can be customary between one First Nation and another to acknowledge the host First Nation Peoples and their traditional territory at the outset of any meeting. The long struggle by First Nations for respect has been tough, but through it all this basic protocol has survived and thrived.


It follows then, that if you want to work effectively with Indigenous Peoples and specifically with a First Nation, one of the best ways is to show respect to the Nation by following traditional territory protocol. This can be established at the beginning of any meeting by acknowledging the host community, its people, and its territory.


There are two First Nation protocol greetings that can be used at the beginning of any meeting. In order to determine which is appropriate will require some initial research. You will want to determine the location of the meeting, and more specifically, the type of lands you are meeting on (i.e. is your meeting taking place on treaty lands or traditional territory?)


Traditional territory is as it sounds. Lands that have been been used for all kinds of traditional purposes, and usually but not always, have an accompanying map to show you the boundaries. The protocol for acknowledging a Nation on treaty territory is slightly different and discussed in a separate post.


Once you have tackled the task of determining that you are meeting on traditional territory you're ready to put together your traditional territory acknowledgement and follow traditional territory protocol.


Protocol on First Nation's Traditional Territory

I would like to thank the _________ for agreeing to meet with us today and for welcoming us to your traditional territory.


Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples™ Tip:

Keep in mind that these are not the only ways to acknowledge your hosts, and you may learn of alternative greetings more appropriate to your hosts.


With this in mind:

1. Be sure to ask the person with whom you are setting up the meeting to help you with proper greeting and meeting traditional territory protocol before you arrive.

2. Keep in mind that your spirit and sincerity can matter more than your particular words.


I hope you enjoyed this article on protocol on First Nation's Traditional Territory. Be sure to spend time preparing your greeting as it will pay big dividends in the relationship building process. Here's a related article Why should you learn to pronounce Indigenous names?


And another article on First Nation protocol: Thanking the host Nation and why you should


It is heartening to see how widespread it is becoming to include this simple, yet respectful acknowledgement. 


Jets, Oilers among organizations leading the way in Indigenous tributes

TDSB Schools Now Pay Daily Tribute to Indigenous Lands They're Built On

A Few Examples of Organizations Recognizing First Nations in Public Gatherings


Visit our Media Relations page for a list of print and on air interviews with Bob Joseph. 


Ottawa Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples Training Week



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Topics: First Nations, Aboriginal Awareness