Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Innu Place Names Website a Worldwide First

Natuashish (Labrador). For Immediate Release. 21 November 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

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 ‘burbot 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 Idéeclic, 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.

No comments: