The Land, Space & Place

—Large Regions—

Abya Yala: (Dulegaya): “Land in its Full Maturity” or “Land of Vital Blood”. A term from the language of the Kuna people of Panama that refers to western hemisphere – the “amerikan” continents – and has been in usage since before the arrival of europeans. The Bolivian Aymara leader Takir Mamani argues for the use of the term Abya Yala in the official declarations of indigenous peoples’ governing bodies, saying that “placing foreign names on our villages, our cities, and our continents is equivalent to subjecting our identity to the will of our invaders and their heirs.” It is the term of choice here to refer to the continent.

Maehkaenah-Menaehsaeh: (Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): ”Turtle Island”. In the language of many northeastern Indigenous Nations, Turtle Island is used to refer to both western hemisphere as a whole, as well as more specifically to refer to the northern land mass of the continent, occupied by present day kanada and the united states. Here its usage is as the former, specifically the form from Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen (the Menominee language).

Anawak: (Nawatl): “Near the Water”. Historically used to describe the areas in central Mexiko controlled by the triple alliance of Mexiko-Tenochtitlan, Tlakopan and Texkoko. While today it is used by some to refer to the entirety of north amerika, i use it specifically to designate the region comprised of Aztlán, Mexiko, Amalpan (Belize), Kuauhtemallan (Guatemala), Atenantitech (Honduras), Kuzkatlan (El Salvador), and Nikananawak (Nicaragua). Prior to the european invasion, Anawak had a large degree of cultural unity, with vast systems of trade, government, agriculture and sciences.

Anishinaabewaki: (Anishinaabemowin): “Land of the People”. Like many other words included in this section, this term is used by some to refer to continent known as “amerika” as a whole. It’s usage here however is to refer to the largely contiguous lands of the Alongkian-speaking nations, with many of the most populous peoples in this region referring to themselves as Anishinaabe (“the people”) or some variant thereof. These nations include the Anishinaabe proper (the Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi, Oji-Cree, Algonquin, Nipissing & Mississauga) as well as the closely related Menominee, Cree, Cheyenne, Blackfoot, Arapaho, Shawnee, Mi’kmaq, Lenape and others in the modern u.s. states and kanadian provinces of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and the east coast from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia through New England and down to the Carolinas. Because our nations did not have hard and fast borders in the way that the europeans understand them, there is much overlap between Anishinaabewaki and Haudenosauneega.

Aztlán: (Nawatl): “Land of the Heron/Stork”. Located in the four corners region along the four great rivers, it is the land now makes up the southwest united states. Several Nawatlakah nations lived before migrating to to the valley of Mexiko. In modern political terms Aztlán refers to the areas of northern Mexiko seized by the united states in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase, namely the entirety of the territories of the modern u.s states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and portions of Wyoming, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas.

Haudenosauneega: (Rotinonshón:ni): “Land of the People who are Building a Long House”. The traditional territory of the Six Nations Rotinonshón:ni (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy, otherwise known as Iroquois, and closely related northern Iroquoian-speaking peoples. Traditionally composed of five “countries”: 1) ” Haudenosauneega Proper” (the traditional territories of the original Five Nations in New York) 2) Ohi-yo’ (the Ohio Valley) 3) Tiiuchsochruntie (the Lower Peninsula of Michigan), 4) Couchsachrage (the Adirondack Mountains), and 5) Skaniadarade (Southern Ontario). Because our nations did not have hard and fast borders in the way that the europeans understand them, there is much over lap between Haudenosauneega and Anishinaabewaki.

Tawantinsuyu: (Quechua): The name the Inca gave their territory. Tawa = Four, Inti = Sun and Suyu = Direction; the Four Directions Under the Sun. Today some people use this name instead of “south amerika” to refer to the southern portion of the western hemisphere.

Wabanahkik/Waabanakiing: (Wôbanakiôdwawôgan/Anishinaabemowin) “Land of the Dawn/Eastern Land.” The Atlantic coastal zone of Anishinaabewaki: the eastern seaboard from Epekwitk & Quebec, south through the Carolinas.

—Islands, Lakes, Mountains & Rivers—

Borikén: (Taíno): “Land of the Valiant Lord,” the island of Puerto Rico.

Cubao: (Taíno): “Where Fertile Land is Abundant,” the island of Cuba.

Dzil Nchaa Si An: (Ndee Biyati’): “Big Seated Mountain”, Mount Graham.

Epekwitk: (Míkmawísimk): “Land Cradled In the Waves”, Prince Edward Island.

Gahnawehtaˀ: (Gayogohó:nǫ): Niagara Falls.

Haida Gwaii: (Xaat Kíl): ”Islands of the People”. The true name of the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Kaniatarowanénhne (Kaniatarowanenneh): (Kanien’kéha) “Big Waterway”. Also called the St. Lawrence River.

Kichi Sibi/Kichissippi’: (Anishinaabemowin): “Great River/Grand River.”

Manna-hata: (Munsee-Unami): “Island of Many Hills”, Manhattan Island.

Mi’kma’ki: (Míkmawísimk): Modern day Nova Scotia.

Nahui Atl: (Nawatl): The great rivers that mark out Aztlán: the Colorado river, the Green river, and the San Juan river.

Nayaano-Nibiimaang Gichigamiin: (Anishinaabemowin): “The Great Lakes (The Five Freshwater Seas).”

  • Anishinaabewi-Gichigami/Ocīkaeqsyah-Kaeqcekam: (Anishinaabemowin/ Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): “Anishinaabe’s Sea”, Lake Superior. Also known as Ojibwewi-Gichigami, “Ojibwe’s Sea.”
  • Ininwewi-Gichigami/Nanāweyah Kaeqcekam: (Anishinaabemowin/ Oma͞eqnomenēweqnaesen): “Illinois’ Seas”, Lake Michigan. Also known as Mishii’igan, “Grand Sea” and Mishigami, “Great Lake.”
  • Naadowewi-Gichigami: (Anishinaabemowin) “Iroquois’ Sea”, Lake Huron. Also known as Gichi-Aazhoogami-Gichigami, “Great Crosswaters Sea” and Odaawaawi-Gichigami, “Odawa’s Sea.”
  • Niigani-Gichigami: (Anishinaabemowin) “Leading Sea”, Lake Ontario. Also known as Gichi-zaaga’igan, “Big Lake.”
  • Waabishkiigoo-Gichigami: (Anishinaabemowin): “Neautral’s Seas”, Lake Erie. Also known as Aanikegamaa-Gichigami, “Chain of Lakes Sea”.
  • Waawiyaataanong: (Anishinaabemowin): “At the Whirlpool”, Lake St. Clair.

Pahá Sápa: (Lakotah): The name of the Black Hills mountain range in the tongue of the Tetonwan. Also known as Moʼȯhta-voʼhonáaeva to the Tsitsistas and Awaxaawi Shiibisha to the Hiraacá .

Quisqueya: (Taíno): The island of Hispaniola.

Xamayca: (Taíno): “Land of Wood and Water,” the island of Jamaica.

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