Landscape embedded in language

Tags: John Benjamins Publishing Company, Uncorrected proofs, place names, Stephen C. Jett, Canyon de Chelly, names, James Kari, New York NY, place name, natural landscape, Keith Basso, Athabaskan languages, Tucson AZ, Theodore B. Fernald, North Point Press, Navajo Indians, Salt Lake City UT, University of Washington Press, Alaska Historical Commission, Robert S., University of Texas Press, Richard K., Navajo Tribal Museum, Thomas F., Na-Dene languages, Native American Language Family, Vintage Books, Kluwer Academic, Laurence D., Language and Art in the Navajo Universe, Van Valkenburgh, Karl W., Paul R. Platero, New York, Third Glacier Bay Science Symposium, Navajo sacred places, Sagebrush Hill, traditional Navajo, supernatural stories, traditional Navajos, Kari 1989:129, Navajo Country, descriptive names, Athabaskan language, landscape features, Harris Francis, Klara Kelley, The Navajo Sound System, University of New Mexico Press, Charles Redd Monographs, University of Alaska Museum, Museum of Northern Arizona, University of Utah Press, Francis 1994, ceremonial, Brigham Young University, University of Pennsylvania Press
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chapter 15 Landscape embedded in language The Navajo of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, and their named places Stephen C. Jett On the pictorial wings of placenames, imaginations soar. (Keith Basso 1990:173) Humans interact with landscape by classifying and labeling a select multitude of the landscape's limitless individual areas and features. Studying place names reveals much about language, perception, values, beliefs, environment, economy, and history. Like place-naming among other Athabaskan speakers, Navajo toponymic practice overwhelmingly produces descriptive names for landscape features, reserving commemorative and activity place-naming largely for human-modified places. Athabaskan languages employ an unusual number of topological and directional affixes and verb forms, which can condense and convey much information within brief descriptive place names. Lexeme frequencies hint at what Navajos see or saw as significant in their natural landscape. Place-naming facilitated possessing/controlling landscapes. The Navajo attached the itineraries and activities of mythological protagonists to the land via a web of place names; the associated stories and their descriptive names served as mnemonic guides for far-traveling Navajos. 1. Introduction Human beings live in and experience landscapes, and they interpret and alter those landscapes through cognition and through action, as well as through language expressing that cognition and action (for an overview, see Levinson 2003). People identify and specify places that they see as significant by assigning those places names that characterize and/or symbolize them. On first consideration, place names ­ especially merely descriptive ones (like Flat Rock, for instance) ­ may strike one as of minor and only particularist consequence. But in fact, place names are potentially highly informative regarding a
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328 Stephen C. Jett considerable number of significant things. This is because they are intersections of place, landscape, thought, language, perception, value, belief, history, economy, and society, and thus provide avenues of understanding toward all of these physical-environmental, cognitive, linguistic, and cultural phenomena (see Thornton 1997:209­210). Place names reflect a people's fundamental relationship to, and interaction with, their habitat, as well as that people's often encyclopedic knowledge of its territory and beyond (see Afable & Beeler 1996:185). The anthropologist of Northern Athabaskan Indians Richard K. Nelson (1994:18), in "The Embrace of Names," wrote of "[n]ames covering the terrain like an unbroken forest. Names that wove people profoundly into the landscape, and that infused the landscape profoundly into the people who were its inhabitants. Names that give special life to the terrain ...". As folklorist Susan W. Fair (1997:467), writing of the Inupiat, put it, "Native teachings electrify each named place with an intimate conglomeration of activities, genealogy, history, memory, moral lessons, and future ...". And, averred the anthropologist of the Apache Keith Basso (1990:144), Place names are arguably among the most highly charged and richly evocative of all linguistic symbols. Because of their inseparable connection to specific localities, place names may be used to summon forth an enormous range of mental and emotional associations ­ associations of time and space, of history and events, of persons and social activities, of oneself and stages in one's life. And in their capacity to evoke, in their compact power to muster and consolidate so much of what a landscape may be taken to represent in both personal and cultural terms, place names acquire a functional value that easily matches their utility as instruments of reference. The Athabaskan language group is, with Eyak, a subdivision of the Na-Dene linguistic family (which includes Tlingit), centered in northwestern North America (Krauss 1973), and is now fairly certainly linked with Yeniseian of southwestern Siberia (Ruhlen 1998; Vajda 2010, in Kari & Potter 2010). Ancestral Na-Deneans probably entered Alaska from Siberia before 6000 years ago and expanded into western Canada (Kari, this volume). The Athabaskan-speaking ancestors of the Navajos and other Apaches moved into the American Southwest from Canada before A.D. 1500 (Perry 1991; Haskell 1987; Ives 2003; on the Navajo [Dinй] language, see Young & Morgan 1980, 1992; Yazzie & Speas 2007; on Navajo phonology, see McDonough 2003; on Western Apache, see Bray 1998). Northeastern Arizona's Canyon de Chelly/Canyon del Muerto system is at the heart of today's Navajo Country. In 2001, I published the book Navajo Placenames and Trails of the Canyon de Chelly System, Arizona, which inventoried and analyzed over 250 Navajo place names in and adjacent to the canyons. The bulk of the data used in this paper derives from that work (see also Jett 1970;
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Landscape embedded in language 329 Wilson & Dennison 1995; Van Valkenburgh 1974, 1999; Brugge 1993:19­20, 40­54; Linford 2000; Aton & McPherson 2000:36­37). 2. Place names as perception and description Most Native American place names ­ including those of the Navajo and other Athabaskan speakers and the Na-Denean Tlingit ­ are descriptive. Except when referring to human-modified places, Navajo place names are seldom activity toponyms or commemorative in the strict sense; they thus closely and directly reflect landscape perception (e.g., Afable & Beeler 1996:185; Bright 2006; Kari 1996:445; 1989, this volume; Thornton 2008:68; Basso 1996:23; Baumhoff 1958). Although there is surprisingly modest repetition of true place names over the vast Navajo Country, some geographical terms are sufficiently common as to be generics. Navajo examples of generics include tsй `rock' (as a feature) and tу `water, spring' and even the two combined as tsйya tу `water under rock,' i.e., `cave spring.' Another, more complex example is be'ek'id halchii' `red-area lake,' a term for a chronically muddy pond or lake (Brugge 1993:40). geographic terms may be particularized by addition of the -н suffix. Individuated but common designations such as Tsй 'Нн'бhн `The Standing Rock,' of which there are at least five places so named in the canyon system and many more in the greater Navajo Country, may be thought of as semigenerics. (For other generics and semigenerics, see Jett 2001:196­197.) As with other Athabaskan languages (cf. Kari 1989:129, 139, this volume; Basso 1984, 1990:155; Goodwin 1932; Basehart 1974:63­82; Baumhoff 1958), almost all Navajo place names are transparent; although a small number contain archaisms, very few are wholly unetymological. Most commonly, Navajo descriptive place names include one (or more) specifying elements added to a generic to form a binomial (or polynomial) appellation. Such names are normally very straightforward and describe one (or more) salient physical characteristic of the place. An example is Shґґ Tуhн `The Sunnyside Spring' in Canyon de Chelly, whose aspect is toward the midday sun. Still, in a few cases a rock or other feature will be named for its resemblance to something else (e.g., Tsнdii Binii'н `The Bird's Face,' a rock with an avian shape in Canyon del Muerto). Place name collection and analysis throw light on what locations or features the namers perceived as being notable, worth naming. In the Canyon de Chelly system, almost half of the Navajo place names are attached to natural features (most of the cultural place names refer to trails, and a few to prehistoric vestiges). The ten classes of natural referents of which there are two or more examples in the canyons are, in order of frequency: rocks (especially, standing rocks); canyons
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330 Stephen C. Jett and coves; caves/overhangs/ledges; gaps in rock; springs; stream entries, exits, and confluences; plants (as individuals or patches); cliffs; falls and stream narrows; and natural cliff stains that resemble something else. (The local frequencies of these and other referents vary, of course, as the physical environment varies areally.) Although most Navajo place names are thus quite specific, not infrequently the name of a particular feature may be used to refer to the entire general area (cf. Brugge 1993:40; cf. the Tlingit: Thornton 2008:87­93). In strong contrast to Anglo-American place-naming, only about ten percent of de Chelly-system Navajo place names refer to individuals or to specific human-historical or mythological occurrences or to repeated human activities. Furthermore ­ again, in contrast to Anglo practice ­ allusion to or transfer of a name from one location to another, distant one (e.g., Athens, Greece, inspiring Athens, Georgia, and Athens, Ohio) is very rare among the Navajo, although transfers to nearby, comparable locations occasionally occur. 3. Place names for place-possession Because the land is a sacred creation (see Levy 1998) and of indefinite duration, whereas humans are merely land-users with limited powers and finite lifetimes, traditionally Navajos cannot individually possess parcels of Navajo Country and their natural landscape features, only successively utilize them for dwelling, for grazing and farming, and for wild-resource-collecting under a system of use rights (which expire if use is abandoned for a significant period of time; Haile 1968). Numbers of place names do include the third-person possessive prefix bi- `his/her/its.' Nevertheless, with respect to natural features or places or even man-made trails, this simply implies customary use or, alternatively in the case of a trail, the individual's having constructed it, and does not signal exclusive, transferrable possession. An example in the Canyon del Muerto branch is Tу Dнch'нi'nii Bitsйyaa `Bitterwater Clan's Cave,' named because Bitterwater Clan land-users customarily dried produce there. Navajos generally avoid attaching personal names or sobriquets to natural features, as doing so might attract too much attention to that person from the supernaturals (Jett 1970:182; for similar Northern Athabaskan avoidance, see Kari 1989:129, 142; Cruikshank 1990:62; for the Tlingit, see Thornton 1993:298). . Jбdн Habitiin `Antelope's Trail up out' in Canyon del Muerto refers not to pronghorns using the trail but to nearby Navajo pictographs of such animals or to hunters employing the trail en route to the hunting ground outside the Canyon.
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Landscape embedded in language 331 On the other hand, traditional Navajo people perceive themselves as being corporately permanent and the Navajo Country as having been created exclusively for them, so one could say that Dinй Bikйyah `Navajo's Land' (originally, Dinйtah `Among the Navajo,' i.e., `Navajodom') is possessed by the Dine'й `The People' as a whole (see Jett 2002). It may also once have been the case that local bands were perceived as possessing their local territories; a number of clans ­ whose memberships are now scattered ­ have place-derived names, suggesting that these clans originated as localized bands (Jett 1978:357). Furthermore, some individuals were known by sobriquets derived from their home areas, reflecting the close association between person and customary-use area. One way by which a group signals its taking possession of the land is what the Norse who settled largely empty Iceland and then Greenland called Landnбma `land-naming.' In a sense, land-naming was land-taking and land-taming. Like Iceland and Greenland, much of what is now the Navajo Country may have been unoccupied when the Navajos' ancestors arrived from the north something over half a millennium ago, the land having been abandoned by the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) by A.D. 1300. The People did not adopt any pre-existing place names except, possibly, as calques, i.e., loans by translation, in a small number of cases (cf. the Alaskan Athabaskan Ahtna; Kari & Tuttle 2005:5; Kari, this volume). A new web of place names and linked supernatural stories was applied to the land (the stories probably, in part, under Puebloan influence). Although . E.g., Ts'ah Yisk'idnii `Sagebrush Hill People,' Nihoobбanii `Gray-streak Ends People,' Kin Yaa'бanii `Towering House People,' and Kin Lichнinii `Red House People.' Thanks to David M. Brugge for suggesting inclusion of this material. . On the other hand, it is instead quite possible that the 'Anaasбzн `Ancestral Aliens' were driven out by the expanding proto-Navajo and proto-Apache (see Jett 1964). . Direct translation by Navajos was probably very rare. "The Navaho ... evince little interest in any language but their own," and in fact "had a deep-seated belief that contact with alien people or anything connected with them was potentially dangerous" (Hill 1948:391). Athabaskan tongues are generally resistant to lexical borrowing (Callaghan & Gamble 1996:111), and Northern Athabaskans seem not to have adopted any pre-existing placenames (Kari & Fall 2003:40; Kari 1989:129, 139, 144, this volume). However, bilingual representatives from neighboring peoples could have translated their placenames into Navajo for Navajo individuals with whom they interacted (as in trade, in marriage, or in servitude), occasionally leading to Navajo adoption of a foreign name through translation. To the extent that the Navajo incorporated Puebloan stories, certain placenames in those stories may have been adopted by translation. Although borrowing was/is rare, the Navajo word for `bison,' 'ayбnн (as in the modern placename 'Ayбnн Bito' `Bison Spring'), likely reflects a rare pre-reservation-period borrowing since it appears to be a variant of widespread similar lexemes of the approximate form yanasa found, for example, in Muskogean languages, Tunica, Natchez, and Cherokee (see Haas 1978:33).
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332 Stephen C. Jett local Navajo names of natural places continue occasionally to be coined, place names as a whole and the names of important individual places are seen, traditionally, as having been established in permanence by the Holy People long before the creation of the first Navajo clans. But these places and their names were established for the People and in the Navajo language, so their existence and their employment in the myths is, to traditional Navajos, prime evidence of the legitimacy of the Dine'й's occupation of their territory. 4. Place names as itineraries James Kari (personal communication 2008) has noted, "Geographic knowledge and prowess are highly valued in all Athabaskan cultures". "Athabaskan place names", he stated, "are systematic multifunctional sign networks that are conducive to being memorized and that facilitate travel and occupancy over large areas" (Kari 1996:443). He also spoke of "the reverence and the care speakers take when reporting sequences of names ..." (p. 444). "The place names appear in networks," he continued, "and constitute cognitive maps" (p. 464). The anthropologist of the Navajo Gary Witherspoon (1977:34) noted that, for the Navajo, "the essence of life is movement ... [This] proposition ... is firmly embedded in the structure and content of Navajo language ..." (cf. Tlingit: Thornton 1993:295). The scholar of Navajo mythology Karl Luckert (1979:195) argued that, "[b]y way of these round trips [of protagonists in chantway myths,] the Athabaskan hunter mind laid claim to a southwestern homeland." The Navajo see their country, bounded by the four directional sacred mountains, as foreordained for their occupation and use (see Jett 2006). One function of claiming the land by naming its various notable features (or, more accurately, by discovering the names assigned to places by the Holy People) was to create a ceremonial and pragmatic mental map of the territory so that the Dine'й might orient themselves within it and so that it could come to serve their human needs and desires. Navajos, traditionally a quite mobile people, are unusually preoccupied with the details of geography and of named places, and descriptive place names served as geographically and ceremonially mnemonic wayfinding devices (Francis & Kelley 2005; on Alaska Athabaskans, see, e.g., Kari 1989, this volume; Kari & Fall 2003; on the Tlingit, see Thornton 1997:221, 2008:70­80). Christopher Vecsey (1988:125) declared, "By knowing, naming, and acting willfully, Navajos can coerce even the gods to share their potency ...". Wrote the scholar of Navajo ceremonial literature Leland C. Wyman (1957:36):
Landscape embedded in language 333
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Place is of the utmost importance to the Navaho. The need is felt ritually to recapitulate mythical toponymy and topography in song and prayer. The geographical tales of long journeys of the protagonists of the myths almost literally bound the Navaho Country; at least they state its landmarks.
Agreed the anthropologist of the Navajo Richard F. Van Valkenburgh (1974:17­ 18):
Their stories, whether religious or secular, are replete with accounts of natural features, locations, distances ... To the Navajo, these details are important alike because of their sacred associations and because of their Practical significance: to a people who did not write they served as the equivalent of our maps, and they guided the Navajo to sites for hunting and for gathering plant foods, ceremonial plants, minerals, and other objects used in ritual.
As Richard Nelson (1983:39) wrote about the Navajo's linguistic relatives in Alaska, "These names are like street signs on a mental map that hunters and travelers use to orient themselves. Many are linked to stories of the past or to beliefs about certain places; so they fill the landscape with cultural and personal meanings". Among the Navajo, they facilitate(d) journeys for visiting, war, hunting, trade, religious pilgrimage, and so forth. The Navajo anthropologist Harris Francis and the Anglo anthropologist Klara Kelley examined this phenomenon among the Navajo and found that
... Navajo ceremonial stories include verbal maps ... the maps in the Navajo
stories can be used for wayfinding. The Navajo verbal maps work by identifying
routes of travel with sequences of named landmarks and cultural features. They
show the direction of travel by anchoring those sequences to icons of the cardinal
directions or other places in the cosmic framework. ... The story sequence forms
a guideline for travelers to know which places they need to reach, in what order,
and in what direction. Not only can the stories function as maps, but in the past
Navajos did use them as maps. ...
(Francis & Kelley 2005:98­99)
As mentioned above, Navajo, like other Apachean tongues, is an Athabaskan language, closely related to the speech of the Native peoples of western Canada's boreal forest and forest edge (Hoijer 1956). Athabaskan languages are characterized by unusual spatial/topological specificity, and as a result place names contain sometimes surprising amounts of information in small packages (see Pinxten et al. 1983; Young & Morgan 1980, 1992; Henry & Henry 1969; Cruikshank 1990:64; Kari, this volume). As I have written elsewhere, such "information is ... communicated via verbal roots, many of which imply shape and position ­ as elongate and stiff, blob-like, and so forth, and as standing, sitting, lying horizontally,
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334 Stephen C. Jett spreading out, and so on (Hoijer 1945; Faltz 1998; Young 2000)" (Jett 2001:186; see also Leer 1989; Smith 2000; cf. Tlingit: Thornton 2008:80­85). There are also a number of affixes that can be added to simple noun stems and thereby indicate position or directionality. Postpositional suffixes of this sort include -yi' `within,' -gi `at,' -k'i `on,' -yaa' `beneath,' -ni `under,' gha `through,' -ta' `between,' -tah `among,' -naa `around,' and -jн(go) `in the direction of'. Prefixes include bii- `inside', ha- `upward', na- `downward', and ch'н- horizontally outward' (see, inter alia, Kari 1976). And there are also bh `alongside', yбб `up into the air', naa `across', dah `at an elevation', and 'adah `downward from a height'. I give here two instances of these usages in Canyon place names. Tsй Dah Sitlй'й is Junction Rock, a lumpish sandstone butte sitting on a rock-cut terrace at the confluence of Canyons de Chelly and del Muerto. Tsй means `rock' and dah means `at an elevation'. The si- that begins the verb sitlй'й implies that the subject is in a static position; the succeeding -tlй'й part of the verb specifies that the object is sitting like a mushy blob atop another object or on a substrate. A second example is Ch'у Haazt'i'. Ch'у is `douglasfir(s)'. The haaz- part of the verb indicates that the subjects extend up out (of the canyon), and the t'i implies that they do so in a line. A specific place name may be qualified in order to generate additional, associated place names. For example, the aforementioned Ch'у Haazt'i' `Douglasfirs Extend up out in a Line' is an irregular row of trees that lends its name to nearby features (cf. Ahtna; Kari, this volume): Ch'у Haazt'i' Nбstl'ah `DouglasfirsExtend-up-out-in-a-Line Cove' (Fir Tree Canyon) and Ch'у Haazt'i' Ha'atiin `Douglasfirs-Extend-up-out-in-a-Line Trail'. 5. Place names as history As mentioned, except for many of those referring to settlements and other human-established features, Navajo place names are usually descriptive and are seldom specifically commemorative. Nevertheless, the stories (hanй') explaining the origins of the ceremonials typically involve long, arduous journeys of protagonists in search of curative knowledge and include long lists of the names of the places that those protagonists pass and at which the Holy People transfer ritual knowledge to them; in the great majority of cases, these are real and still identifiable places carrying Navajo names, which reinforces the Navajo perception that these myths are true and bind the People to this particular land (see Jett 1993, 2006; Watson 1964; Van Valkenburgh 1974; Kelley & Francis 1994; McPherson 1992; cf. the Tlingit: Thornton 2008:111). With regard to de Chelly
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Landscape embedded in language 335 (and as extendable to all of the Navajo Country), local Blessingway Singer Greyeyes Ben Stuart said, "And the [holy] people built the canyon and it became the Navajos' ... And there are different places that are named after the [stories of the ceremonial] sings ..." (Harris 1965:3­4). Thus, many place names are reflections of mythic history, in which the supernatural intersects the physical and the mundane in the form of particular named places ­ places that retain power owing to their roles in these mythic events (see Jett 1995); pilgrimages to these places and the invoking of their names in ceremonial song and prayer call upon that power. An example is the previously discussed Ch'у Haazt'i' `Douglasfirs Extend up out in a Line', which refers to an actual line of trees in a tributary of Canyon del Muerto. According to the story of the Coyoteway ceremonial, at this location the leader of the Yellow Corn People leaped down from a cliff, and firs sprang up in the footprints that he made upon landing (Luckert 1979:196­197). Some localities important in these stories have, in addition to their exoteric secular names, esoteric ceremonial ones. A case in point is Rock People Turned Into, near the mouth of de Chelly's Monument Canyon tributary. This is a mass of columnar sandstone, which actually carries several names. A secular descriptive name is Tsй Dah Deeshzhaa'н `The Up-Spiked Rock'. Then, there is the ceremonial descriptive/commemorative name Tsй Ndadzisdlн'н `The Rock that People Turned into'; a story tells that this landmark comprises humans who were petrified as punishment for disobeying local Holy People. Some sacred landmarks, such as the four cardinal-directional mountains, carry one or more ceremonial honorific titles as well as their exoteric names; and Francis and Kelley wrote of "prototype place names". which are generalized esoteric names such as Dzil Lбhdilt'йн `Mountain One' that are applied to more than one geographic landmark (each of which has its individual exoteric label) and that, by their application, connect those features to general cosmography. The application of `Mountain One' implies that the feature so named is an originating place, as on a supernatural being's journey (Francis & Kelley 2005:93). Regarding secular history, there is, of course, a history (or at least, a reason) for every place name. But whereas numbers of named natural features have historical or personal or activity-related stories associated with them, as is true in other Athabaskan-occupied regions, few of the de Chelly names themselves contain any reference to events. Still, there are a few instances. There is, for example, 'Adah 'Aho'doo'nilн `Where People Were Pushed away downward from a Height,' today's Massacre Cave in Canyon del Muerto, where a Spanish punitive expedition killed perhaps a hundred Navajos in 1805. The name refers specifically to where a knife-wielding soldier struggled with a young Navajo woman attempting to climb up the rock from her hiding place in the cliff-shelter refuge; the woman
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336 Stephen C. Jett pulled the man over the edge, to both of their deaths. An example of a place name based on a repeated activity is a dune in lower Canyon de Chelly called Sйн 'Adilйhй `The Adultery Sand [Dune]'; when ascending the canyon from the trading post at its mouth, this was the first significant place at which one encountered soft, clean ground and privacy (between the pile and the cliff) for fornication. As is the case with the other Apache peoples, Navajo places and their names are inextricably entwined with story. Interestingly, Klara Kelley and Harris Francis (2001:42) found that when Navajos are taken into the field and questioned about place names, "the route itself dictates the sequence in which a person identifies particular places. At home, the person is more likely to mention places by telling a story or ceremonial sequence that interconnects a group of places". Burenhult and Levinson (2008:138) have written, "[P]lace names are one of the most conservative elements in a language". Athabaskan languages appear to be particularly resistant to change (James Kari, personal communication, 2008; cf. Cruikshank 1990). Kari (1989:129) concluded that Alaskan Athabaskan "oral place names seem to be quite stable and conservative over time" (also Kari, this volume). Despite Navajo not being a written language before the twentieth century, nineteenth-century ­ and in one case, eighteenth-century ­ transcriptions/ translations of Navajo place names of Canyon de Chelly indicate complete continuity into the early twenty-first century. Moreover, the chantway myths and other sacred stories that provide cognitive maps contain nothing reflecting European presence or cultural introductions, suggesting minimum ages of over 400 years for the place names involved (Francis & Kelley 2005:99). Therefore, we may suppose that the history of most Navajo place names ­ at least those in long-settled areas ­ is lengthy and that the names themselves have long persisted unchanged. 6. Place names and making a living Athabaskan speakers, including the Navajo, are noted for their pragmatism (Vanstone 1974:125). Navajos depended ­ and still depend to some degree ­ directly on the natural resources within their habitat. Place names not only assist a person generally to find his or her way around in the landscape, as described above; in addition, some toponyms specifically identify a resource-producing site and thus aid in the processes of making a living and of engaging in certain cultural activities (Brugge 1993:42; cf. Alaska's Ahtna: Kari, this volume). One . In the wider Navajo Country, there is a modest percentage of placenames that memorialize battles, executions, and so forth (Brugge 1993:42; for other Athabaskans, see Basso 1984:27­32, 1990:155, 1996:23­24, 28; Kari 1989:142, this volume; Cruikshank 1990:56, 59, 60, 62­63).
Landscape embedded in language 337
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de Chelly-system example of such a name is Sheep Point, known in Navajo as Dibй Dббd `[Bighorn] Sheep Obstruction.' Here, a sheer-sided point of upland projects from the rim out into Canyon del Muerto, via a narrow neck. This was an area of bighorn-sheep abundance; from the end of the point, men would drive bighorns toward the neck, at which a pair of hunters would lie in ambush where there was a natural wall that had but a single, narrow passage through it. Another instance is Chннh Hajitseelн `At Someone-Chips-out-Red-Ochre.' This is an outcropping in upper Canyon de Chelly where there once was a deposit of red ochre, mined as a sunscreen and as a pigment.
7. Northern/Southern Athabaskan comparisons
The place-naming practices of all Athabaskan-speaking peoples so far studied share a rather lengthy list of commonalities. As I wrote in 2001:
Correspondences include: stress on naming natural features instead of cultural
ones (aside from trails); no borrowing of preexisting names; translatability of
virtually all names; descriptiveness and literality as opposed to metaphoricality
or allusiveness; non-specificity, i.e., a single name being applied to more than one
feature of an area (but with specifying nouns used when ambiguity is a risk) or to
an area larger than the named feature itself; avoidance of incorporating personal
names in permanent place names; and frequent use of nominalized verbs as, or
in, place names.
Navajo differences from Alaskan Athabaskan practice are fewer but are also
interesting. They include the same name being applied to more than one unre-
lated landmark, even fairly locally ... [but see Kari, this volume, for repetition in
Ahtna]. They also include Navajo use of alternative names for the same feature.
These last include sacred versus secular names as well as more than one distinct
secular name, and also, commonly, equal acceptability of alternative phrasings
that convey meanings similar to more-or-less standard names.

(Jett 2001:207)
These differences may reflect, at least in part, fusion with Puebloan culture following the pre-Navajo's arrival in the Southwest, especially in the adoption of farming with its increased degree of sedentism and in the selective adoption and reinterpretation of elements of Puebloan religion.
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338 Stephen C. Jett 8. Conclusion Onomastics ­ the study of names ­ is a subdivision of linguistics. Language is a means of dividing the vast, continuous world out there and the objects and interactions within it into bits small enough and discrete enough to be comprehended and communicated, and proper-naming is the application of this linguistic capacity to specific entities ­ in the case of place-naming, to particular localities (Thornton 1993:295). Such names are enduring and shared identificatory labels that, in a sense, contribute to the creation of the cognitive reality of the places named, that help bring those places into the orbit of human consciousness, comprehension, and activity. While so doing, the names become nexuses where physical place and human observation, activity, and history conjoin. They represent particularly apt portals via which scholars may achieve improved understandings of landscape, perception, and language, as well as culture, history, and economy. As Susan Fair (1997:478) wrote: Toponyms cluster on the land, drawing attention to complex associations between themselves and features of the landscape, ... residence and land-use patterns, language and dialect, the transfer of information by gender, economic practices, local beliefs, history, morals and other traditional knowledge. Rather than being insignificant, obscure, and peripheral objects of study, then, perhaps place names should be central to cultural, geographical, and even cognitive research. References Afable, Patricia O. & Beeler, Madison S. 1996. Place-names. In Handbook of North American Indians 17, Languages, Ives Goddard (ed.), 185­199. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution. Aton, James M. & McPherson, Robert S. 2000. River Flowing from the Sunrise: An Environmental History of the San Juan. Logan UT: Utah State University Press. Basehart, Henry W. 1974. Mescalero Apache Subsistence Patterns and Sociopolitical Organization: Commission Findings on the Apache [American Indian Ethnohistory: Indians of the Southwest 12]. New York NY: Garland. Basso, Keith. 1984. Western Apache place-name hierarchies. In Naming Systems: The 1980 Proceedings of the American Ethnological Society, Elizabeth Tooker (ed.), 78­94. Washington DC: The American Ethnological Society. Basso, Keith. 1990. Western Apache Language and Culture: Essays in Linguistic Anthropology. Tucson AZ: The University of Arizona Press. Basso, Keith. 1996. Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque NM: University of New Mexico Press.
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Landscape embedded in language 339 Baumhoff, Martin A. 1958. California Athabascan Groups [Archaeological Records 16(5)]. Berkeley CA: University of California Press. Bray, Dorothy, with White Mountain Apache Tribe. 1998. Western Apache ­ English Dictionary: A Community-generated Bilingual Dictionary. Tempe AZ: Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingьe. Bright, William. 2006. Native American Placenames of the United States. Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press. Brugge, David M. 1993. An Investigation of AIRFA Concerns Relating to the Fruitland Coal Gas Development Area. Albuquerque NM: Office of Contract Archaeology, University of New Mexico. Burenhult, Niclas & Levinson, Stephen C. 2008. Language and landscape: a cross-linguistic perspective. Language Sciences 30(1­2): 135­150. Callaghan, Catherine A. & Gamble, Geoffrey. 1996. Borrowing. In Handbook of North American Indians 17, Languages, Ives Goddard (ed.), 111­116. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution. Cruikshank, Julie. 1990. Getting the words right: perspectives on naming and places in Athapaskan oral history. Arctic Anthropology 27(1): 52­65. Fair, Susan W. 1997. Inupiat naming and community history: The Tapqaq and Saminiq coasts near Shishnaref, Alaska. The Professional Geographer 49(4): 466­480. Faltz, Leonard M. 1998. The Navajo Verb: A Grammar for Students and Scholars. Albuquerque NM: University of New Mexico Press. Francis, Harris & Kelley, Klara. 2005. Traditional Navajo maps and wayfinding. American Indian Culture and Research Journal 29(2): 85­111. Goodwin, Granville. 1932. Various Unpublished manuscripts on Western Apache placenames. Tucson AZ: The Goodwin Archive, Arizona State Museum, The University of Arizona. Haas, Mary R. 1978. Language, Culture, and History: Essays by Mary R. Haas, Anwar S. Dil (comp.). Stanford CA: Stanford University Press. Haile, Berard. 1968. Property Concepts of the Navajo Indians [Anthropological Series 17]. Washington DC: Catholic University of America. Harris, Sally Pierce (interviewer). 1965. "Grey Eyes, Canyon de Chelly." Doris Duke 695, unpublished transcript from the American Indian History Project. Salt Lake City UT: Doris Duke Western History Center, University of Utah; copy at Visitor Center, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Chinle, AZ. Haskell, J. Loring. 1987. Southern Athapaskan Migration, A.D. 200­1750. Tsaile, AZ: Navajo community college Press. Henry, Davis & Henry, Kay. 1969. Koyukon locationals. Anthropological Linguistics 11(4): 136­ 142. Hill, Williard W. 1948. Navaho trading and trading ritual: A study of cultural dynamics. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 4(4): 371­396. Hoijer, Harry. 1945. Classificatory verb stems in the Apachean languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 11(1): 13­23. Hoijer, Harry. 1956. The chronology of the Athapaskan languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 22(4): 219­232. Ives, John W. 2003. Alberta, Athapaskans, and Apachean origins. In Archaeology in Alberta: A View from the New Millennium, Jack W. Brink & John F. Dormaar (eds), 256­289. Medicine Hat AB: Archaeological Society of Alberta.
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340 Stephen C. Jett Jett, Stephen C. 1964. Pueblo Indian migrations: an evaluation of the possible physical and cultural determinants. American Antiquity 29(3): 281­300. Jett, Stephen C. 1970. An analysis of Navajo place-names. Names 18(3): 175­184. Jett, Stephen C. 1978. The origins of Navajo settlement patterns. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 68(3): 351­362. Jett, Stephen C. 1993. An introduction to Navajo sacred places. Journal of Cultural Geography 13(2): 29­39. Jett, Stephen C. 1995. Navajo sacred places: Management and interpretation of mythic history. The Public Historian 17(2): 39­47. Jett, Stephen C. 2001. Navajo Placenames and Trails of the Canyon de Chelly System, Arizona. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. Jett, Stephen C. 2002. The Navajo homeland. In Homelands: A Geography of Culture and Place across America [Creating the North American Landscape], Richard L. Nostrand & Lawrence E. Estaville (eds), 168­183. Baltimore MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, in cooperation with the Center for American Places. Jett, Stephen C. 2006. Reconstructing the itineraries of Navajo chantway stories: A trial at Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. In Southwestern Interludes: Papers in Honor of Charlotte J. and Theodore R. Frisbie [Archaeological Society of New Mexico 32], Regge N. Wiseman, Thomas C. O'Laughlin & Cordelia T. Snow (eds), 75­86. Albuquerque NM: The Archaeological Society of New Mexico. Kari, James. 1976. Navajo Verb Prefix Phonology. New York NY: Garland. Kari, James. 1989. Some principles of Alaskan toponymic knowledge. In General and Amerindian Ethnolinguistics: In Remembrance of Stanley Newman, Mary Ritchie Key & Henry M. Hoenigswald (eds), 129­151. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Kari, James. 1996. Names as signs: the distribution of `Stream' and `Mountain' in Alaskan Athabaskan languages. In Athabaskan Language Studies, Essays in Honor of Robert W. Young, Eloise Jelinek, Sally Midgette, Keren Rice & Leslie Saxon (eds), 443­475. Albuquerque NM: University of New Mexico Press. Kari, James & Fall, James A. 2003. Shem Pete's Alaska: The Territory of the Upper Cook Inlet Dena'ina, 2nd edn. Fairbanks AK: University of Alaska Press. Kari, James & Potter, Ben A. (eds). 2010. The Dene-Yeniseian Connection [Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska 5(1­2)]. Fairbanks AK: University of Alaska. Kari, James & Tuttle, Siri. 2005. Copper River Native Places: A Report on Culturally Important Places to Alaska Native Tribes in Southcentral Alaska [BLM Alaska Technical Report 56]. Anchorage AK: Bureau of Land Management, Alaska State Office. Kelley, Klara Bonsack & Francis, Harris. 1994. Navajo Sacred Places. Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press. Kelley, Klara Bonsack & Francis, Harris. 2001. Canyon de Chelly National Monument ­ ethnographic resources. CRM: The Journal of Heritage Management 24(5): 41­43. Krauss, Michael E. 1973. Na-Dene. In Linguistics in North America [Current Trends in Linguistics 10], T. A. Sebeok (ed.), 903­978. The Hague: Mouton. Leer, Jeff. 1989. Directional systems in Athapaskan and Na-Dene. In Athapaskan Linguistics: Current Perspectives on a Language Family [Trends in Linguistics, State of the Art Reports 15], Eun-Do Cook & Keren D. Rice (eds), 575­622. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Levinson, Stephen C. 2003. Space in Language and Cognition. Cambridge: CUP. Levy, Jerold E. 1998. In the Beginning: The Navajo Genesis. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.
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Landscape embedded in language 341 Linford, Laurence D. 2000. Navajo Places: History, Legend, Landscape. Salt Lake City UT: University of Utah Press. Luckert, Karl W. 1979. Coyoteway: A Navajo Holyway Healing Ceremonial. Tucson AZ: The University of Arizona Press/Flagstaff AZ: Museum of Northern Arizona. McDonough, Joyce. 2003. The Navajo Sound System. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic. McPherson, Robert S. 1992. Sacred Land, Sacred View: Navajo Perceptions of the Four Corners Region [Charles Redd Monographs in Western History 19]. Provo UT: Brigham Young University. Nelson, Richard K. 1983. The Athabaskans: People of the Boreal Forest/Ts'ibaa Laalta Hьt'anna [Studies in History 27]. Fairbanks AK: Alaska Historical Commission, University of Alaska Museum. Nelson, Richard K. 1994. The embrace of names. In Northern Lights: A Selection of New Nature Writing from the American West, Deborah Clow & Donald Snow (eds), 14­21. New York NY: Vintage Books. [repr. from The Island Within (New York: North Point Press, 1989)] Perry, Richard J. 1991. Western Apache Heritage: People of the Mountain Corridor. Austin TX: University of Texas Press. Pinxten, Rik, Van Dooren, Ingrid & Harvey, Frank. 1983. The Anthropology of Space: Explorations into the natural philosophy and Semantics of the Navajo. Philadelphia PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Ruhlen, Merritt. 1998. The origin of the Na-Dene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 95(11): 13,994­996. Smith, Carlota S. 2000. The semantics of the Navajo verb base. In The Athabaskan Languages: Perspectives on a Native American Language Family, Theodore B. Fernald & Paul R. Platero (eds), 200­227. Oxford: OUP. Thornton, Thomas F. 1993. Tlingit and Euroamerican toponyms in Glacier Bay. In Proceedings of the Third Glacier Bay Science Symposium, 1993, D. R. Engstrom (ed.), 294­301. Anchorage AK: U.S. National Park Service. Thornton, Thomas F. 1997. Anthropological studies of Native American placenaming. American Indian Quarterly 21(2): 209­228. Thornton, Thomas F. 2008. Being and Place among the Tlingit. Seattle WA: University of Washington Press. Vajda, E. 2010. A Siberian link with Na-Dene languages. In Kari & Potter, 33­99. Van Valkenburgh, Richard F. 1974. Navajo sacred places. In Navajo Indians III, 9­199. New York NY: Garland. Van Valkenburgh, Richard F. 1999. Dinй Bikeyah. Mancos CO: Time Traveler Maps. [orig. pub. 1941] Vanstone, James V. 1974. Athapaskan Adaptations. Chicago IL: Aldine. Vecsey, Christopher. 1988. Imagine Ourselves Richly: Mythic Narratives of North American Indians. New York NY: Crossroad. Watson, Editha L. 1964. Navajo Sacred Places. Window Rock AZ: Navajo Tribal Museum. Wilson, Alan & Dennison, Gene. 1995. Navajo Placenames: An Observer's Guide. Guilford CT: Jeffrey Norton. Witherspoon, Gary. 1977. Language and Art in the Navajo Universe. Ann Arbor MI: The University of Michigan Press. Wyman, Leland C. 1957. Beautyway: A Navajo Ceremonial [Bollingen Series 53]. New York NY: Pantheon Books.
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342 Stephen C. Jett Yazzie, Evangeline Parsons & Speas, Margaret. 2007. Dinй Bizaad Bнnбhoo'aah: Rediscovering the Navajo Language. Flagstaff AZ: Salina Bookshelf. Young, Robert W. 2000. The Navajo Verb System: An Overview. Albuquerque NM: University of New Mexico Press. Young, Robert W. & Morgan, William. 1980. The Navajo Language: A Grammar and Colloquial Dictionary. Albuquerque NM: University of New Mexico Press. Young, Robert W. & Morgan, William. 1992. An Analytical Lexicon of Navajo. Albuquerque NM: University of New Mexico Press.

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