Innu Nation launches new place names website

Natuashish (Friday, November 21, 2008). Labrador Innu made history today by putting on line the first comprehensive cultural website dedicated entirely to Aboriginal place names. Called Pepamuteiati nitassinat ('As We Walk Across Our Land'), the website gives access to over 500 Innu place names in Labrador, as well as stories, photos, and video clips associated with the names. The website can be explored at www.innuplaces.ca

Innu Nation Grand Chief, Mark Nui, said, “Place names are very important to our people because they are a gateway to our history on the land. Many younger Innu who have gone through the provincial educational system have never learned these names. We hope that the website will help them learn about their culture and history.

Lots of place names in Labrador come from the Innu (e.g. Minipi-Lake from Minai-nipi, meaning Ëœburbot lake), but others were given by pilots, mining companies, settlers and outfitters and were imposed on places that already had Innu names. The website will enable the Innu and members of the general public to start using the Innu place names, to learn about the meaning of the names and how to pronounce them.

Other Aboriginal groups have been doing place name research over the years, and some are in the process of publishing their own websites (e.g. James Bay Cree and Norwegian Sámi). However, Pepamuteiati nitassinat is the first, comprehensive one put on line to date.

Grand Chief Nui pointed out that “Over thirty years of research with our Elders went in to this website. It's a gift from our Elders to younger Innu people. It's part of our Elders' legacy. It's also an important part of our intangible cultural heritage that will help educate people about the richness of our history and traditions.”

The website was made possible by contributions from many institutions and agencies including multimedia company Ideclic, Environment Canada, Parks Canada, Memorial University Linguistics, and Canadian Boreal Trust. The Innu Nation wishes to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through Canadian Culture Online.

Comments

Congratulations!

Hi Peter,

I had a look at the website and I *loved* it, especially the map (http://www.innuplaces.ca/placename_intro.php).

Being able to click on the placename to see the meaning and hear the pronunciation is really great. I'm also looking forward to seeing pictures. I've always wanted to visit Labrador, now even more so.

Again, congratulations. An excellent resource for all.

Best, Eliana.

need alternative to Google Maps

Thanks Eliana. The choice of cartographic representation for this project proved to be very difficult. We started with DEMIS wms, partly because we were very interested in future compatibility with a toponymic website that the James Bay Cree are working on which currently uses DEMIS. However, we couldn't get it to perform properly so we replaced it with Google Maps (satellite view). The problem with this is that it's based on Landsat 7 imagery which has something like 35% cloud cover. As a result, many named geographic features in Labrador Innu territory are obscured by cloud cover. I want to solicit suggestions from the community concerning cost-effective alternatives. New Google Maps imagery free of clouds would be great but when will we get that?

Seasons greetings from the East Coast. Peter Armitage

Peter Armitage