In two earlier posts, I wrote about the dangers of naming species after the name of the first peoples of an area, as well as the concerns about using a word from a native language.
In the first of those posts, I mentioned that I was hoping to name a species “Bembidion mimbres”, after the Mimbres people who lived in that area and made pottery depicting many insects. The Mimbres represent an extinct culture, but apparently the Hopi include their descendants. Last week I received word from a legal representative of the Hopi, and he said there would be no objections to my using that name. He pointed out that “mimbres” was not a native word – and, in fact, it is a Spanish word that means “willows”. It couldn’t be more ideal, as this species lives under willow trees along the banks of rivers; in the picture below, the beetles can be found at night up under the willows walking on willow leaf litter. I am delighted both by the permission to use the name, and by this added meaning.
In the second post, I talked about wanting to name a Lionepha from Marys Peak, Oregon, which lives along the edges of waterfalls and seeps, “Lionepha tuulukwa”, as “tuulukwa” means “waterfall” in the local (now extinct) native language. The habitat of this species is shown below; one night, 12 specimens were found in moss in the circled area. I’ve been talking to some friendly people associated with the local tribes, and they have generously given me permission to use that name; they also provided more detailed linguistic information about the word, which is very helpful.