In an early post, I talked about how naming a species after the native people of an area should be done with caution, and ideally with permission. While a name of a tribe is potentially offensive, I had thought that using a word from their language was not. That is also a trend: to pick a word from the native language of an area, and use that to name a species. I have a species of Lionepha to name from Marys Peak, Oregon, a species that lives in moss along the edges of waterfalls and nearby seeps. It’s a nice species, quite distinctive, and so far only known from that one area.
The word for waterfall in the Santiam language (formerly spoken not too far from Marys Peak) is “tuulukwa”, and I thought that Lionepha tuulukwa would make a lovely name. I also thought that it would honor the first people of the area. But I was warned that for that, too, I would need permission: there has been enough of a history of the taking of land and other resources from the indigenous peoples that the taking of words might also offend. While that hadn’t occurred to me, I understand. So I have asked, although it is not completely clear whom to ask – the Santiam are no longer extant. I do hope that permission is granted, and that I can honor the former residents of this valley while at the same time giving an appropriate name to an interesting beetle.