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Collecting Cree Place Names

The collection of Cree place names is conducted through the Cree Regional Authority's “Cree Place Names, Stories and the Land Program.” The program began as a means of building a database of Cree historical and cultural knowledge about places in Iiyiyuuschii, the Cree homeland in northern Quebec.

Information about place names is obtained from interviews with elders and hunters who have detailed knowledge of their hunting lands. Usually the older people know more stories about a particular place, and are more knowledgeable about the significance of the names.

For the recording of place names the Cree Place Names, Stories and the Land program instituted a rigorous methodology that established standards and procedures for two stages of work:

To gain a broad understanding of Cree knowledge about a territory, stage one involves detailed place name surveys. Information is collected by interviewing individuals who have knowledge about particular parts of that territory. The precise location of a place is recorded with a number on a detailed map, and with the name and location of the place in Cree syllabics and Roman orthography on a data sheet. A brief version of any stories, myths or other relevant information about each place is also recorded on the data sheet. For more information about this methodology, see Guide to the Field Collection of Native Geographical Names.

The second step is to make audio and, when possible, digital recordings of more complete versions of the stories, myths and other interesting information about places identified on the maps during the survey.

An interactive map highlighting Waswanipi, Mistissini and Whapmagoostui lands was created using the results of the interview material. The interactive map only shows those place names that have verified geographic locations, and Cree syllabic and Roman spellings.