Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Nations traditional names for places we paddle

Ever notice that on a map or a chart, there are some places that have a different name for every cove and point of land along a shore? Those are the maps that show where people live and use those places in lots of ways. For a while now, I've been wondering what the traditional names are for the places that our paddle group has been kayaking. The Salish people have lived in this area for some 4000 years, and they have lots of names for local bays and points and islands of interest to kayakers. If you look around at a good beach for launching or landing, or an estuary with birds and fish, well, since the glaciers retreated it's been a good place to paddle in a small boat.

Sometimes the traditional name, or an attempt to pronounce or spell it in English, is the one on the map. Sometimes the traditional name is way more colourful and interesting and appropriate than any English name. Well, it's hard to beat Quick's Bottom, but it can be done.

Check out this page from a website for the Songhees Nation, and scroll down to a list of fourteen interesting names for places that have all been mentioned on the Kayakyak blog. Cool!

And take some time to read this page from a website on First Nations: Land Rights and Environmentalism in British Columbia. I did an internet search for camas, the blue flowers that bloom on Flower Island where I love to paddle, and this website came up. It's not an easy read.

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