The ANPN Project addresses the need for an authoritative, statewide resource documenting traditional knowledge of Indigenous place names across all of Alaska's Native languages.

"All the greatness of any land, at any time, lies folded in its names."

--Walt Whitman


  • Create a comprehensive record of the indigenous place names of Alaska, across all of Alaska's Native languages. To achieve that end the project is building a multilingual geo-database which both (i) preserves existing documentation; and (ii) synthesizes a new documentary record based on input from Native language experts.
  • Explore the connections between Indigenous place naming, environmental knowledge, and ecosystem services.
  • Promote continued use and appreciation of Indigenous names.

Papers and presentations

  • Place-naming strategies in Lower Tanana Dene (Athabascan) [pdf]
    Jason Harris and Gary Holton. Presentation to Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, January 8, 2015. Portland.


The geodatabase developed by this project will be designed to handle issues of both linguistic and geographic uncertainty. The database will be searchable through a web-based portal, and GIS data will also be made available through the Alaska State Geospatial Data Clearinghouse

The ANPN Project is also compiling a list of place name resources for Alaska Native languages. For more information view the Projects Page.

Native Place Names Workshop, April 29

The upcoming meeting of the Council of Geographic Names Authorities (COGNA) in Anchorage will feature an Alaska Native Place Names Workshop on April 29.

Maps and Names Project

ANPN has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to support the integration of historic maps, manuscripts, and place names. This 3-year project, entitled Linking maps, manuscripts, and place names data to improve environmental knowledge in Alaska, is a collaborative effort with the National Snow and Ice Data Center and will create a sustainable platform accessible to both current and future researchers and community members. For more information see the project website. [2014-08-28]

Sahtu History Project

The ANPN Project is currently collaborating with partners in the Northwest Territories to provide access to historic place name data collecting by EmÓle Petitot in the 19th century. Read about the project in this article.

The Alaska Native Place Names project was launched with support from the Alaska EPSCoR Program. Continued funding provided by the Alaska Native Language Center and the National Science Foundation.

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