Sunday, November 23, 2008

Innu Place Names Website

Labrador Innu launched the first comprehensive cultural website dedicated entirely to Aboriginal place names. Called Pepamuteiati nitassinat (‘As We Walk Across Our Land’), the website gives access to over 500 Innu place names in Labrador, as well as stories, photos, and video clips associated with the names. The website can be explored at . Innu Nation Grand Chief, Mark Nui, said, “Place names are very important to our people because they are a gateway to our history on the land. Many younger Innu who have gone through the provincial educational system have never learned these names. We hope that the website will help them learn about their culture and history.”

Lots of place names in Labrador come from the Innu (e.g. Minipi-Lake from Minai-nipi,
meaning ‘burbot lake’), but others were given by pilots, mining companies, settlers and outfitters and were imposed on places that already had Innu names. The website will enable the Innu and members of the general public to start using the Innu place names, to learn about the meaning of the names and how to pronounce them.

Other Aboriginal groups have been doing place name research over the years, and some are in the process of publishing their own websites (e.g. James Bay Cree and Norwegian Sámi). However, Pepamuteiati nitassinat is the first, comprehensive one put on line to date.

Grand Chief Nui pointed out that “Over thirty years of research with our Elders went in to this website. It’s a gift from our Elders to younger Innu people. It’s part of our Elders’ legacy. It’s also an important part of our intangible cultural heritage that will help educate people about the richness of our history and traditions.”

The website was made possible by contributions from many institutions and agencies including multimedia company Idéeclic, Environment Canada, Parks Canada, Memorial University Linguistics, and Canadian Boreal Trust. The Innu Nation wishes to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through Canadian Culture Online.

History of the website project

  • The Innu place names available on the website were collected in the context of a number of research projects going back to the mid-1970s.
  • The biggest source of place names for the site is a 1980 mapping project. Over 500 maps at 1:50,000 scale were cut and taped together to form two giant maps. One was laid on the gym floor at Peenamin McKenzie School in Sheshatshiu and the other in the parish hall in the former community of Davis Inlet. Older hunters were invited to walk about on these maps to point out the locations of place names as well as old travel routes, camp sites, caches, birth places and good hunting and fishing places.
  • Only seven of the 34 older hunters who worked on the 1980 mapping project are still living.
  • A great deal of validation work was undertaken with respect to the places names which was done by ethnolinguist, José Mailhot, and anthropologist Peter Armitage, with the collaboration of Marguerite MacKenzie, Sebastien Piwas, George Gregoire, Jean-Pierre Ashini, Basile Penashue, Tony Penashue, and several Innu Elders.
  • Project managers for the website project were Kanani Penashue and Peter Armitage.

What’s on the website

  • The site features a searchable database of over 500 Innu place names.
  • Each place name record in the database contains information about the meaning of the name, how to pronounce it, and its location. Site users can click on an audio icon to hear the pronunciation of each place name.
  • The site has an interactive map showing the locations of the place names.
  • Background information on how Innu place names are constructed is presented.
  • Video clips and photographs show people what the named places look like or document land use activities there.
  • Audio narratives from Innu Elders and youth tell stories about events and people associated with certain place names.
  • Future phases of the website will add more place names, video clips, photos, and audio stories.

Source: Press relase by Natuashish (Labrador), 21.11.08

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CGDI Interoperability Pilot

The CGDI IP project developed a OGC Web Feature / Web Map Service partnership network across Canada, demonstrating a variety of scenarios involving closest-to-source update, access and use of public geospatial data. This video highlights the collaboration, the concepts and technology behind the network.

Monday, November 10, 2008

ESRI GIS Grants for U.S. 4-H Programs

The 2009 ESRI geographic information system (GIS) technology grants for the U.S. 4-H Youth Development Program are open for application until December 1, 2008. GIS greatly improves the ability of educators, students, and their institutions to answer personal and community questions with local and global implications.

With its annual grant program, ESRI has awarded 4-H clubs in more than 600 counties with ArcView and ArcPad software and Virtual Campus training. Three different types of grants are offered: Getting Started with GIS and GPS; Introduction to GIS for 4-H; and Intermediate GIS for 4-H.

For 2009, ESRI has again joined with American Forests, a nonprofit citizens’ conservation group, to provide 4-H clubs with a grant opportunity. Clubs that have successfully fulfilled the requirements of the Introduction to GIS for 4-H grant can acquire advanced functionality for their community service projects through the Intermediate GIS for 4-H grant. ESRI will equip these clubs with Youth Club Licenses for ArcGIS 3D Analyst or ArcGIS Geostatistical Analyst extensions. American Forests will provide clubs that are working on a forestry project with the CITYgreen extension to ArcGIS.

“This grant program is an excellent way for 4-H clubs in the United States to access the latest geospatial technology,” said Esther Worker, youth and community mapping manager, ESRI. “GIS will help further the 4-H mission of integrating science, engineering, and technology into youth programs as well as provide an excellent way for youth to investigate and understand their communities and their world. We encourage 4-H clubs to apply for this opportunity to advance their projects in a creative and telling way.”

“It is amazing what kids learn from the environment when they use GIS,” said Mike Lehman, CITYgreen software director, American Forests. “CITYgreen fosters a higher level of thinking and helps kids understand what is happening to the environment around them.”

The American Forests environmental education program provides students with a real-world learning experience while offering teachers an innovative and organized program for teaching science, math, and GIS. American Forests’ CITYgreen software conducts complex analyses of ecosystem services and creates easy-to-understand reports. The software calculates dollar benefits for the services provided by the trees and other green space in a specific area.
4-H geospatial research and community mapping projects help young people build on their science and technology knowledge and skills as well as their personal outlook and career aspirations. These projects also help both youth and adults improve decision making in their communities and help strengthen local economic, social, and environmental well being.

The software and training materials for grant recipients will be delivered to the 4-H clubs in early 2009.

More information about the ESRI GIS for 4-H (U.S.) program, grants, and application process can be found at

Questions can be directed to Esther Worker at or by calling 303-449-7779, extension 8216.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas: Conservation Through Self-Determination

Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas: Conservation Through Self-Determination
Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers
Las Vegas, Nevada; March 22-27, 2009

Co-sponsored by the Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group, the Cultural and Political Ecology (CAPE) Specialty Group, and appropriate regional specialty groups
Session(s) organized and chaired by Stan Stevens, Associate Professor of Geography, Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 01003

Deadline to contact session chair with abstract: October 9, 2008
Conference registration and abstract deadline: October 16, 2008

Papers are invited for an AAG session on the interwoven politics and political ecologies of Indigenous rights and protected area-based conservation. This is the sixth consecutive year that the Indigenous Specialty Group has sponsored and organized such sessions at the AAG annual meetings. These sessions provide a continuing venue at the AAG for discussion of conservation, difference, and social justice and for analyses of the diverse political ecologies created by the establishment of protected areas by Indigenous peoples, states, and NGOs in Indigenous peoples' territories. Participants in this year's session are invited to join previous participants in contributing theoretical and case study chapters to an edited book. Both theoretical and case study contributions are welcome.

The organizer is particularly interested in papers on the following topics:
  • New Paradigm Protected Areas. Establishment, operation, and effectiveness of inclusive, participatory, new paradigm protected areas. These may include diverse types of protected areas in which Indigenous peoples' land use and participation in management is recognized.
  • Critiques of Old Paradigm Protected Areas. Analyses of coercively imposed exclusionary "wilderness" or Yellowstone-model protected areas and "fortress conservation" from the standpoints of violations of human/indigenous rights; displacement; loss of access to and/or management of natural resources, cultural resources, and cultural sites; accompanying changes in land/water use and management; and consequent ecological change.
  • "Hand-backs," "Hand overs," and other Reconciliation and Restitution. Case studies of redress, compensation, or restitution for past injustices against Indigenous peoples caused by the creation or management of protected areas.
  • False Representations of "Progressive" Protected Areas. Analyses of protected areas which have inappropriately represented as participatory and community-based by states, intergovernmental agencies, or NGOs .
  • Rights-Based Conservation. Analyses of protected area governance and management in cases where this is explicitly based on recognition of constitutional, human, and/or Indigenous Rights.