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Indigenous and Minority Placenames

Indigenous and Minority Placenames: Australian and International Perspectives

Ian D. Clark
Luise Hercus
Laura Kostanski
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Indigenous and Minority Placenames
    Book Description:

    This book showcases current research into Indigenous and minority placenames in Australia and internationally. Many of the chapters in this volume originated as papers at a Trends in Toponymy conference hosted by the University of Ballarat in 2007 that featured Australian and international speakers. The chapters in this volume provide insight into the quality of toponymic research that is being undertaken in Australia and in countries such as Canada, Finland, South Africa, New Zealand, and Norway. The research presented here draws on the disciplines of linguistics, geography, history, and anthropology. The book includes meticulous studies of placenames in central NSW and the Upper Hunter region; Gundungurra cave names; western Arnhem Land; Northern Cape York Peninsula and Mount Wheeler in Queensland; saltwater placenames around Mer in the Torres Strait; and the Kaurna in South Australia.

    eISBN: 978-1-925021-63-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. 1. Introduction: Indigenous and Minority Placenames – Australian and International Perspectives
    (pp. 1-10)
    Ian D. Clark, Luise Hercus and Laura Kostanski

    This book is the third volume in a series dedicated to Australian placenames. The earlier volumes are Koch and Hercus (eds) 2009,Aboriginal Placenames: Naming and Re-Naming the Australian Landscape(The Australian National University E Press and Aboriginal History), and Hercus, Hodges and Simpson (eds) 2002,The Land is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia(Pandanus Books and Pacific Linguistics, Canberra). As in the earlier volumes, many of the papers in this volume originated as papers at a placenames conference, in this case one hosted by the University of Ballarat in 2007 that featured Australian and international speakers...

  5. 2. Comitative placenames in central NSW
    (pp. 11-38)
    David Nash

    Jerilderie, Narrandera, Cootamundra, Gilgandraare placenames familiar beyond their districts in inland New South Wales (NSW), and the casual observer can notice dozens of placenames with similar endings-dra, -drie, -dgery(and other English spellings), all taken (correctly) to be of Indigenous origin. The places with these names are all in inland NSW, and not in adjacent Victoria (or elsewhere in Australia).

    The common ending of these placenames reflect a particular ending in Wiradjuri, a widespread Indigenous language of inland NSW. Indeed the ending is also present in the name of the language, and has had dozens of variant spellings,...

  6. 3. The diminutive suffix -dool in placenames of central north NSW
    (pp. 39-56)
    David Nash

    Almost all the official Australian placenames ending indool(as officially spelled) are in a region in central northern New South Wales (NSW) and adjacent Queensland; such asAngledooland over a dozen others. In the Riverina district of south-western NSW, in a separate language area, are about eight such toponyms, such as Moombooldool. This intriguing clustering invites investigation.

    The investigation was based on the 81,624 entries in the Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW (Geographical Names Board 2011). I also consulted the 36,165 entries in the Victorian placenames database, the Queensland register, and theGazetteer of Australia(Geoscience Australia...

  7. 4. Placenames as a guide to language distribution in the Upper Hunter, and the landnám problem in Australian toponomastics
    (pp. 57-82)
    Jim Wafer

    The question of what language or languages was or were spoken in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales (NSW) is vexed. The NSW Aboriginal Languages Research and Resource Centreʹs current draft ʹMap of NSW Aboriginal languagesʹ² leaves the Upper Hunter blank. In earlier attempts to identify the languages spoken in this region, from the coastal areas occupied by ʹAwabakalʹ and ʹWorimiʹ to the headwaters of the Hunter in the Great Dividing Range, Tindale (1974: 193 and map) filled the space with a language he called ʹGeawegalʹ, and the Central Mapping Authority (ʹCMAʹ) of NSW (1987) and Horton (1996)...

  8. 5. Illuminating the cave names of Gundungurra country
    (pp. 83-96)
    Jim Smith

    Jenolan and Wombeyan are two of the most widely recognised Aboriginal placenames, while Tuglow and Colong are perhaps better known to bushwalkers and speleologists. These limestone cave complexes are in the country of the Gundungurra (also spelled Gandangara) speaking people.¹ Their territory, which included the catchments of the Wollondilly and Cox rivers and some adjacent areas west of the Great Dividing Range, has one of the richest concentrations of limestone caves in Australia. As well as the four main areas listed above there are many small, lesser-known karst areas. These places were very important to the local Aboriginal people. It...

  9. 6. Doing things with toponyms: The pragmatics of placenames in Western Arnhem Land
    (pp. 97-122)
    Murray Garde

    As proper names, placenames do not, by convention, make their way into dictionaries of most languages, although lexicographers working on Australian languages might wish to disagree with this convention. Indeed Indigenous people themselves have insisted on occasion that placenames should play a significant role in dictionary making (Bowern 2009: 327; Aklif 1999). Relationships to land and place-based spirituality are central to Australian Aboriginal cultures and anyone who has had any exposure to an Australian language can testify to the saturation of placename reference in everyday conversation. The inclusion of placenames in dictionaries can be justified on many levels but a...

  10. 7. Locating Seven Rivers
    (pp. 123-146)
    Fiona Powell

    In December 1890, while on patrol down the west coast of northern Cape York Peninsula (NCYP), accompanied by Senior-Constable Conroy and a few native troopers of the Thursday Island Water Police, Sub-Inspector Charles Savage visited ʹthe Seven Riversʹ.¹ From this place, the party went south to the mouth of the Batavia (now Wenlock) River. There they met the chief or mamoose of the Seven Rivers tribe,² a man identified as Tongambulo (variations Tong-ham-blow,³ Tongamblow⁴ and Tong-am-bulo⁵) and also known as Charlie in one account.⁶ At the time of this meeting, Sub-Inspector Savage was seeking another candidate for induction into government...

  11. 8. ʹMany were killed from falling over the cliffsʹ: The naming of Mount Wheeler, Central Queensland
    (pp. 147-162)
    Jonathan Richards

    Many placenames in Queensland and Australia date from the frontier period. Names may arise from quite mundane circumstances, such as ʹDry Creekʹ, ʹBullock Creekʹ, etc. Some are ubiquitous, referring to relatively benign events and ideas – for example, the many Muddy, Rocky, Sandy and Stoney creeks – while other placenames are more suggestive of much more sinister affairs. The latter category includes places with frightening names: the various Murdering Creeks and Skull Holes, named after events that some people would apparently rather forget, or even better still, deny ever happened. A third group of names commemorate pioneers, some of whom...

  12. 9. Saltwater Placenames around Mer in the Torres Strait
    (pp. 163-186)
    Nick Piper

    This paper explores the names and meanings given for some of the reefs and cays (small low-lying islands) around Mer, Dauar and Waier (known as the Murray Islands) in the Torres Strait.¹ Such placenames ʹtell us something not only about the structure and content of the physical environment itself but also how people perceive, conceptualize, classify and utilize that environmentʹ (Thornton 1997: 209). They therefore ʹintersect three fundamental domains of cultural analysis: language, thought and the environmentʹ (1997: 209). The aims of this paper are to bring to light naming patterns for places around Mer. It is hoped that such...

  13. 10. Pinning down Kaurna names: Linguistic issues arising in the development of the Kaurna Placenames Database
    (pp. 187-212)
    Rob Amery and Vincent (Jack) Kanya Buckskin

    Kaurna people are in the process of reclaiming their identity and their language, a language that was considered to be ʹextinctʹ by many or ʹsleepingʹ by the people themselves (see Amery 2000a). Kaurna people have expressed the view at Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi (KWP) meetings that they wish to see Kaurna words spelt and pronounced correctly and are keen to see that Aboriginal placenames in use on the Adelaide Plains conform to the sound patterns of the language. Names that appear to be of Indigenous origin are being sifted through. Those that can be verified as Kaurna names are retained, others...

  14. 11. One name for one Place – but it is not always so
    (pp. 213-224)
    Luise Hercus

    Aboriginal placenames represent a very ancient layer of the vocabulary, just as placenames do in European traditions: extensive work has been done on European river names which are said according to some scholars, to form the most ancient layer of the vocabulary, preceding the arrival of the Indo-Europeans (Vennemann 1994). For a traditional Aboriginal person, as for older Europeans the world map was territorially very much smaller than it is for people now in the days of the ʹglobal villageʹ. It was, however, infinitely more detailed and meaningful. We will look at several aspects of Aboriginal placenames in the light...

  15. 12. Why did squatters in colonial Victoria use Indigenous placenames for their sheep stations?
    (pp. 225-238)
    Fred (David) Cahir

    The archival records of many squatters in 19th century Victoria (formerly known as the Port Phillip District) often contain brief references to the processes involved in and decisions that led to the naming of their pastoral leases. This documentation is hardly surprising given that a squatter wishing to obtain a pastoral license would have to register a legal document with the colonial government, stating among other things the name of the run. What is perplexing is why a large number of pastoralists chose an Indigenous name – given that squatters were not under any instructions to bestow ʹnative namesʹ whenever...

  16. 13. Multiple Aboriginal placenames in western and central Victoria
    (pp. 239-250)
    Ian D. Clark

    In a recent paper on transparency versus opacity in Australian Aboriginal placenames, Michael Walsh (2002: 47) noted that in ʹAboriginal Australia it is relatively common for a given place to have multiple namesʹ. In providing an overview of multiple naming practices Walsh (2002: 47) stated the ʹsimplest case is one place having two names. Such doublets can be intralectal or crosslectal. For intralectal doublets where there are two names for the one place in the same lect, both placenames may be opaque, both transparent, or one opaque and one transparent. … The same applies to crosslectal doublets where two names...

  17. 14. Dissonance surrounding the Aboriginal origin of a selection of placenames in Victoria, Australia: Lessons in lexical ambiguity
    (pp. 251-272)
    Ian D. Clark

    When studying the history of some 3,400 Aboriginal toponyms in Victoria, Australia, the majority of placenames were found to have no equivocalness or ambiguity about them (Clark and Heydon 2002). Although it was not possible to find meanings for every one of these Aboriginal placenames, in terms of historical accounts and folk etymology there was no ambiguity – the vast majority of the placenames are accepted in the source material as being of Aboriginal origin. This paper concerns some 26 placenames for which there is dissonance or a lack of agreement about whether or not they are Aboriginal in origin....

  18. 15. Duel-Names: How toponyms (placenames) can represent hegemonic histories and alternative narratives
    (pp. 273-292)
    Laura Kostanski

    Of central import to this study is the rarely cited notion that ʹit is not spaces which ground identifications, but places. How then does space become place? By being namedʹ (Carter, Donald and Squires 1993: xii). Carter and others are among the few who have overtly linked the process of naming to the creation of places from space and their theoretical cohort include Claude Levi-Strauss (1962) who noted that place is named space, and Tim Cresswell (2004: 10) who asserted that ‘when humans invest meaning in a portion of space and then become attached to it in some way (naming...

  19. 16. Water for country, words for water: Indigenous placenames of north-west Victoria and south-west New South Wales
    (pp. 293-304)
    Edward Ryan

    In dry land people search for water, in any land people search for meaning in landscapes. This paper continues previous explorations of placenames of Indigenous origin of north-west Victoria and south-west New South Wales begun in ʹBlown to Witewitekalkʹ (Ryan 2002) approaching that region as a geographical, cultural and linguistic entity in order to draw out such meanings. Names for country can be as localised or region wide as the creation figures that placed them on the land and so the question of the existence of placenames for areas of country rather than just specific localities will be considered. Both...

  20. 17. Obtuse anglers: The linguistics and ethnography of fishing ground names on Norfolk Island
    (pp. 305-324)
    Joshua Nash

    The toponymic processes involved in the naming of fishing grounds represent significant examples of place-creation. They are brought into existence by the human need to name and remember locations at sea. These utilitarian placenames are rarely mapped; they are easily forgotten and are some of the most ephemeral aspects of a people’s toponymic inventory:

    It is not much use taking bearings if they are not accurately recorded for future reference. The human memory for such details is fickle and the eye is easily deceived. … It is asking a lot to try to carry details of 4 points in the...

  21. 18. Sámi placenames, power relations and representation
    (pp. 325-350)
    Kaisa Rautio Helander

    Language plays an important role in forming the social world and it is used to construct and shape social and political reality. According to Clark and Dear (1984: 84), ʺlanguage is studded with signs, icons or symbols, which may carry meanings in excess of the simple word being usedʺ. Power relations are also institutionalised in language, at the same time as it functions as a means of social contact and communication. Language has the effect of including or excluding various groups and individuals according to their perception of the linguistically created ʺrealityʺ (Clark and Dear 1984: 83–88). As Taylor...

  22. 19. Please adjust your bearings…
    (pp. 351-364)
    Huia Pacey

    Changes to the appellations (names) of some Māori land blocks are occurring due to the Māori Freehold Land Registrations Project being undertaken by the Māori Land Court as part of the requirements within section 123 and 124 of the 1993 Te Ture Whenua Māori Act.¹ Many of the original titles of ownership for Māori land blocks in Te Waipounamu Māori Land Court district (South and Stewart Islands and Chathams group of islands of New Zealand) were not constituted from Māori Land Court Orders. They were derived as part of the Reserves set aside at time of sale in the mid...

  23. 20. Accommodating the Inuit majority: Traditional placenames in Nunavut today
    (pp. 365-380)
    Lynn Peplinski

    For 4,000 years, Inuit and their predecessors have combed the almost 2 million square kilometres of the northern Canadian landscape, now known to the world as Nunavut, ʺOur Landʺ. Evidence of extensive Inuit land use and occupancy is present in the more than 8,000 placenames that, lamentably, have yet to appear on official maps. While recognition of the Inuit home land came in 1993 with the signing of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, maps of the Arctic continue to reflect centuries of European exploration and discovery. The Inuit Heritage Trust has been documenting Inuit traditional placenames and has submitted close...

  24. 21. Khoisan indigenous toponymic identity in South Africa
    (pp. 381-398)
    Peter E. Raper

    According to Webster’s Dictionary (Gove 1961: 1151) ʹindigenousʹ means ʹnot introduced directly or indirectly according to historical record or scientific analysis into a particular land or region or environment from the outsideʹ. In terms of this definition the Bushmen (also called San) and Hottentots (also called Khoikhoi) are the true indigenous inhabitants of Southern Africa. These people, collectively known as the Khoisan, occupied vast areas of the African sub-continent, from the Zambezi Valley to the Cape (Lee and DeVore 1976: 5), for thousands of years (Mazel 1989: 12), and left behind a rich legacy of placenames. However, the Khoisan peoples...