New book is guide to Native-language place names in Southeast

May 4, 2012 

A 20-year project to compile Alaska Native place names in Southeast Alaska has led to a new book with about 3,000 such names, published by the University of Washington Press and the Sealaska Heritage Institute. The book, "Haa Leelk'w Has Aani Saax'u (Our Grandparents' Names on the Land)," also includes scholarly discussion of Southeast languages, reports CoastAlaska News.

The researchers were also careful to follow protocol. A wrong move - asking the wrong person - could have closed doors.

"The first thing we had to do was to go out into the villages and get permission to proceed with the project. We couldn't just go ahead on our own. We have to get permission from that area's tribal government," Martin says.

They took charts or maps to elders, pointing out places or asking for names. Martin found he remembered many from his childhood, sailing Southeast with his fisherman father, conversing in Tlingit.

Read more, and hear the audio report, at KTOO: Place names book documents Southeast Alaska history

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