Mapping Native American Placenames
This month’s issue of National Geographic (or the “yellow mag” as we call it around the office) has a fascinating map that translates the Native American placenames from sites throughout the U.S. After poking around, we learned that Missouri translates to ‘Dugout Canoe,’ while Manhattan means ‘where one gathers wood for bows.’ So how did they put the map together?
Press play to watch the design evolve
Luckily our friend Oliver over at The Process, the new NG blog which explains how they design the art for the “yellow magazine,” has a cool video and story about how they created the map for this month’s issue:
In the spring of 2008, one of our editors read that the U.S. Board on Geographical Names had renamed 16 valleys, creeks, and other sites
employing the term “squaw” because, as it turns out, many Native
Americans consider “the S word” a profane term for female genitalia.
Intrigued, we wondered what other placenames really mean.
July, an eager intern had assembled a few pages of Native American
placenames–and what seemed like their translations. But we soon learned
that finding an accurate translation isn’t easy. Centuries worth of
conflicting theories abound.
Suffice it to say that some serious scholarship had to go into the making of the map and it took almost a full year to actually assemble this “typographic puzzle.” Check out NG Blog Central for more.
Video: Oliver Uberti
- Nat Geo Expeditions