Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Place Names, History and the Labrador Innu: A Lecture by Peter Armitage

The Newfoundland Historical Society will be holding its monthly free public lecture and Annual General Meeting on
Thursday, April 28th 2011
at 8 pm
at Hampton Hall Lecture Theatre, located at the Marine Institute on Ridge Road

This month’s lecturer will be Peter Armitage, and his talk is titled:

“From Uapamekushtu to Tshakashkue matshiteuieau: Place Names, History and the Labrador Innu”

On the Island of Newfoundland, we are surrounded by place names in daily life and would have a great deal of trouble living without them, yet we take them for granted. Moreover, few of us have any understanding of the origins of the names we use even though many of them have very important historical associations and are anchors for a great deal of memory about our experiences on the land.

The same thing applies to Innu place names in Labrador. They anchor Innu people to the land and help them remember events that took place there. Many Innu place names are already known to us because anglicized versions of them appear on the maps of Labrador, for example, Minipi Lake (from Minai-nipi, meaning 'Burbot Lake') and Snegamook Lake (from Ashtunekamiku meaning 'Canoe Building Shelter').

Armitage's talk will start with a mysterious Innu place name called Tshakashue matshiteuieau. It means 'Tshakashue's Point' which is located on the south shore of Lake Melville. Tshakashue is the name of two people, one Innu the other Settler. But who is the point named after - the Innu or the Settler person? Tshakashue matshiteuieau will lead us into a labyrinth of meaning and historical association that extends east-west from the coast of Labrador to James Bay, and north-south from Ungava Bay to the Quebec North Shore. By the end of lecture, we will understand better the uniqueness of Innu culture, the connectedness of the Innu people across the Labrador-Quebec peninsula, and the role that place names play in facilitating talk and memory about the land.

Peter Armitage is a consulting anthropologist based in St. John's, Newfoundland. He works with Algonquian-speaking First Nations in Labrador, Quebec and Ontario, and has been working with the Innu since 1982. He curated the Innu place names website called "Pepamuteiati Nitassinat: As We Walk Across Our Land" (www.innuplaces.ca).

Here's how to pronounce Tshakashue matshiteuieau:

1. Uapamekushtu


2. Tshakashue


3. matshiteuieau

much-a-teo-wee-ow (that' ow as in ouch)

the 'a' between much and teo is a schwa as in the 'u' in u

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