Native Languages and Native Trees  
TOPIC: A dream I have regarding Native languages, native trees 

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Date: Sun, Oct 28 2007 8:11 am
From: "Grace Nichols"

Good Morning, Friends:

When I hiked on the Mohawk Trail (I have not yet found Dunbar Brook -- so you see I am a newbie), I thought about how in old growth spots, these trees had grown up hearing their original names in the Mohawk Language, maybe Abenaki or other Algonquin languages.

They must miss it, hearing their original names.

So I have long wanted to have a project which would give the Mohawk name for the tree, the other two or so names for the tree, the linnaean name and the English popular name on a little sign next to the tree.

I know that Jake Thomas has an herbarium where they known the names of many trees and plants....I would imagine that Ndakinna Center might know sources for Algonquin tree names.

I do not know these languages at all. But I'd like to gain familiarity and I'd like the ordinary hiker to be reminded of the beautiful relationship between humans and trees that predated this one.

What I see is a bunch of us in a room with pieces of wood and woodburning tools and polyurethane (or more green alternative) making little attractive multilingual labels. Then getting permission from the Massachusetts department of conservation (whatever their name is) to put them up here and there. Perhaps if we learn to pronounce these names and whisper them to the trees, it will make them happy.

In a good relationship, the humans try to make the trees happy as they give to us in so many ways.

Well, that's my idea.

Grace Nichols