In all my writing and cartography since publication of Haa L’éelk’w Hás Aani Saax’ú: Our grandparents’ names on the land (Thornton & Martin, eds. 2012), I’ve used Lingít place names whenever available, followed by their translation in italic, and IWGN (important white guy name) in parentheses. Euronames, however regal or preemptive, were afterthoughts.

Lingít place names in the downtown area.

Example: Kadigooni X’áat’, island with spring water (Spuhn Island). Where no place name is listed in Thornton & Martin (henceforth T&M, 2012), I may default to the IWGN. Increasingly, however, I’ve been trying to wean myself from some of the most ‘aggressive’ IWGNs, especially the ‘big three:’ Juneau, Mendenhall and Gastineau. You can reduce the number of times you pronounce these unfortunate names by instead saying: Downtown, The Valley, and The Channel. In Áak’w and T’aakú Aaní, everyone will know what you mean.

And as for the name of this website—JuneauNature—sorry! After 4 years of incubation, I guess it’s irrevocably ‘locked-in.’ If I were starting today, I’d probably name it something like SoutheastAlaskaNature, less beholden to IWGNs.

The essay Naming our home, linked below, summarizes what I’ve learned about the history of names, and the political realities of restoring original names to official maps. Meanwhile, for our own maps, free of bureaucratic constraints, let’s get down to it!

In this section

People on the land

The central chapter in my 2013 publication Natural history of Juneau trails, pages 29-36, is a summary of deep and…

2013 | Richard Carstensen | 7 pages (full publication, 72 pages)

Áak’w & T’aakú Aaní: the natural history of resilience

Presentation for Evening at Egan On November 9th, 2018, I gave the second in a series of 4 lectures for…

Nov, 2018 | Richard Carstensen | 36 minutes

Why do we live here?

Factors in village site selection People on the land, †yesterday, today and tomorrow. In early 2013, Goldbelt Heritage Foundation (GHF),…

2014 | Richard Carstensen | 63 pages

1999 fall newsletter: No Name Bay and other misnomers

My feature essay explores native and non-native places names †in Southeast Alaska. Another piece by Kathy Hocker discusses the importance…

Fall 1999 | Richard Carstensen | 4 pages

Naming our home

Name as story; name as narcissism 2013: Over the past few years, I have grown increasingly interested in cultural differences…

2013 | Richard Carstensen | 5 pages

Our grandparents’ names on the land

Haa L’éelk’w Hás Aani Saax’ú: Our grandparents‚’ names on the land. Sealaska Heritage Institute; University of Washington Press. Cultural atlas…

2012 | Thornton & Martin, eds | 232 pages