Names in native languages

an unnamed species of Lionepha

an unnamed species of Lionepha

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.

This entry was posted in Revising Bembidiina, Taxonomic Process and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Names in native languages

  1. Aaron W says:

    Just out of curiosity, who did you ask, since there isn’t a specific local tribal authority? A national pan-indian organization, or maybe some sort of PNW tribal alliance?

    Very cute beetle, by the way.

    • At the advice of a local professor who is part of a NW languages institute, I sent emails to the language and culture specialist at the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, but I have yet to get a reply.

  2. Pingback: Names approved! | The Subulate Palpomere

  3. Pingback: A surprise in Lionepha | The Subulate Palpomere

  4. James C. Bergdahl says:

    Your photos are incredible, and Lionepha are so beautiful given their extreme shininess.
    I have also pondered naming new carabids after the First Nation where they are found. It is often the case that there are conflicting names in use, and a challenge to decide with one is the ‘best’. Some Pacific Northwest tribes, such as the Nez Perce, have their own official website, often with their own tribal names and spelling clearly indicated, however this may be an exception. One tribe whose homelands are trans-boundary (international ca. British Columbia-Washington-Idaho), that I have worked with on fisheries and mountain caribou conservation issues are the “Lakes Indians”, or as they refer to themselves, Sinixt. Their homeland is centered around the Arrow Lake region of BC’s West Kootenays. The Sinixt are one of the many tribes of the Collville Confederated Tribes in USA. The Canadian federal government declared them extinct in Canada many years ago, conveniently allowing the central government to develop the incredible hydro-power resources of their homeland without their input. Many of their ancient villages site are now under water behind dams. First Nations are extremely sensitive about non-tribal-members using their cultures heritage without their consent. I have myself had difficulty getting advice regarding ideas for new species names from authorities of the “Coeur d’Alene” Tribe, even an official list of the original place names for region and places within their homeland. Many First Nations typically make decisions based more-or-less on consensus, and therefore it may take years for them to make a decision on any specific request.

    I recently (Bergdahl & Kavanugh 2011) described two new flightless streamside carabids from Idaho in Zookeys: Pterostichus bousqueti and P. lolo. Bousqueti was an easy choice given all the help Yves has provided me over the year with this group (Pseudoferonina). I found it had to believe this species name was not been pre-occupied, although there is a P. (Hypherpes) ybousqueti from California! Lolo is a lovely short name that easily rolls off the tough like ice cream, which is important I think. Lolo is the name of the ancient “Northern” Nez Perce Trial over the Bitterroot Mountains to the buffalo herds of Montana. This is the trail the Lewis and Clark Expedition took heading west and then again going back east. It is also the trail that Chief Joseph and other leaders lead their people to escape the massacre by the US Cavalry during the famous Nez Perce War. First Nations’ place names may also make good names species, but it is not that easy finding good documentation of them in the literature. For instance, many of them from California are probably extinct given the impact of the Gold Rush years.

    James C. Bergdahl

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