Traditional Gwich’in Place Names

Old becomes new

What was old is new again for the Gwich’in of the Northwest Territories. On June 21, 2013 the Government of the Northwest Territories officially recognised over 400 traditional Gwich’in place names reflecting their land use across the Gwich’in Settlement Area of the NWT. Through the efforts of the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute working closely with Gwich’in Elders between 1992 and 2012, the names of various geographic features were identified and registered with the NWT Cultural Places Program. In 2013, an exhibit was prepared and launched at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre to highlight this historic step in the evolution of NWT cultural heritage and geographical information. For more information, please read the FAQ, survey the Place Names map prepared by the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute, and browse the tables which catalogue the place names along with their geographical coordinates and brief descriptions in Gwich’in.

  • Vihtr’ii Njik

    Translation: “Flint-river” (Photo credit: Jean-Luc Pilon, Canadian Museum of Civilization)

  • Srehtadhadląįi

    Translation: “Water separates” (Photo credit: Ingrid Kritsch, GSCI, 1996)

  • Deetrìn’ ehchįį K’ìt

    Translation: “Crow’s/Raven’s bed-place” (Photo credit: Itai Katz, 2007)

  • Nataiinlaii

    Translation: “Water flowing from all directions” (Photo credit: Mélanie Fafard, GSCI, 2002)

  • Knut Lang’s Place

    One of Knut Lang’s store houses, 1954 (Photo credit: NWT Archives/Curtis Merrill/N-1992-192: 0038)

  • Shìłdii

    Translation: “Sitting down or sitting in fear” (Photo credit: Sarah Jerome, GSCI, 1996)