Fairbanks Area Place Names in the Lower Tanana Language

Although the modern city of Fairbanks was founded in 1901, the region in which Fairbanks is located has long been occupied by speakers of the (Lower) Tanana Athabascan language. The Native placenames of the region reveal a long history of use by Athabascan speakers. In fact, many common English names derive ultimately from Athabascan. For example, Chena from Tanana AthabascanCh'eno', literally 'river of something (game)' -- an oblique reference to the presence of caribou herds in the lower Chena valley; and Chatanika from Dradlaya Nik'a, literally 'round whitefish river.' Other names reveal an intimate connection with the land of the Chena and Tanana River valleys. Thus, Clear Creek Butte on the Tanana Flats is Ch'eyona' T'wx, 'bald eagle nest'; and the Little Salcha River is Tso' Ten No', 'beaver trail creek.'

Native Placenames of the Fairbanks Area
Imagery ©2008 TerraMetrics, Map data ©2008 Tele Atlas - Terms of Use
50 mi
100 km
Center: 64.08556,-148.38751
Map created at GPSVisualizer.com

View these placenames in Google Earth: fairbanks.kmz

The names in the map above were compiled from the following sources:

  • Athabaskan Place Names in the Fairbanks Area by James Kari [ANL Archive manuscriptTN981K1984b]
  • Lower Tanana Place Names by James Kari [ANL Archive manuscript TN981K2003]
  • Lower Tanana Athabaskan Listening and Writing Exercises, by James Kari [ANLA Archive manuscript TNMN981K1991c] (Also available for purchase from ANLC)