Saturday, April 26, 2008

Coeur d'Alene Native Names Project

"The Native Names Project: In September of 2005 the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) funded the Coeur d'Alene Tribe’s Cooperative Agreements Program (CAP) grant to supply Native American place names to the National Map . . . One of the most important things about this project is preserving the individual stories and pronunciations of the places. On many reservations across the United States it is the unfortunate truth that only a handful of the people know the native geographic names. The goal of this project is to collect these place names before they disappear forever." (Above is Hangman Creek, known to the Coeur d'Alenes as "Suckers in the Water.")

You can see the Coeur d'Alene names for many sites in Washington, Idaho and Montana on this flash based map. (Which actually is not loading for me this evening--check back.) Or more fun yet, download the Google Earth KMZ file. Here is what a section of the Google Earth file looks like:
Clicking on the icons brings a pop-up window with the native and Euroamerican names and a link to "site report" page with includes an MP3 of the native pronunciation and in some cases a streaming video of Couer d'Alene elder Felix Aripa explaining the meaning of the name and the location. Here is Aripa explaining how his people called the area around Sprague Lake "Smell smell." Here is another article on the names project.

This is a wonderful combination of native tradition and modern technology. And it points the way towards other neat things one might do with oral history and Google Earth, mapping peoples memories of one room school houses, or CC camps or the like.

(This post via Metafilter.)

No comments: