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Reflections on the use of indigenous place-names in curriculum from research conducted with Tl´azt´en Nation, British Columbia

Author(s): Karen Heikkilä | Gail Fondahl

Journal: Fennia : International Journal of Geography
ISSN 0015-0010

Volume: 188;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 105;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: British Columbia | toponymy | First Nations | indigenous | participatory research | culturally sensitive education

Apart from conventional understandings of its utilitarian function as spatial labels (often eponymous in character), toponymy is seldom appreciated as palimpsest or for the layers of meaning it assumes, conveyed in place-name etymologies and local knowledge associated with the named places. Over the years, a growing body of literature has emerged on the use of toponymy in several research fields: the range spans from linguistic investigations into place-names and naming practices to the use of place-names in tracking environmental change, locating places of archaeological interest, and understanding the knowledge possessed by local communities about the natural environment. The latter focus describes place-names research with Tl’azt’en Nation, the Dakelh-speaking people whose territory lies in the Stuart-Trembleur watershed of central British Columbia, Canada. From the perspective that indigenous place-names communicate knowledge about the natural world, indigenous language and(oral) history, this paper will draw upon examples of Dakelh place-names to demonstrate the value of indigenous toponymy in education.
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