Interested in languages and culture? One language, and indeed a culture, encompasses all of Lake Superior, on both the Canadian and U.S. sides. This culture pre-dates colonization and is Ojibwe.
The “Decolonial Atlas” is a website which maps the Great Lakes region, with all locations written in Ojibwe. Additionally, the site provides a list of Great Lakes locations, in Ojibwe, along with a transcription of what these names mean. You’ll likely find your own town, or at least an area landmark on the list. The interesting part is the way the Ojibwe names incorporate the nature of the terrain, the rivers, lakes and even the tree species native to a given area. A few of the locations included on the site follow below:
- The Great Lakes – the five freshwater seas – Nayaano-nibiimaang Gichigamiin
- Lake Superior – Anishinaabewi-gichigami – Anishinaabe’s Sea
- Lake Nipigon, Ontario – Dog Waters Lake – Animbiigoo-zaaga’igan
- Detroit, Michigan – at the curved shores – Waawiyaataanong
- Sault Ste. Marie – at the cascades – Baawitigong
- Thunder Bay, Ontario – at the Thunderbird Bay – Binesii-wiikwedong
- The St. Louis River – sea river – Gichigami-ziibi
- Isle Royale – blueberrying – Miinoong
- Duluth, Minnesota – at the little portage – Onigamiinsing
- Houghton/Hancock, Michigan – at the foot portage – Gakiiwe-onigamiing.