ReNaming Heritage – Abenaki Trails, Place Names & Geographic Features

From the Cowasuck Bank of the Pannacook-Abenaki People:

Since the early 1990s, the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook – Abenaki People has been engaged in preserving existing and decolonizing anglicized names that have been applied to Abenaki-Pennacook places, mountains, rivers, lakes, and other geographic features.  We have worked with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) faculty and students, the Indigenous NH Collaborative Collective (INHCC), and the New Hampshire Commission on Native American Affairs (NHCNAA), and other government agencies.  We started to research this subject using our etymology resources within our Algonquin, Abenaki, and Pennacook language documents and archives.

The Cowasuck Band’s first documented work on place names occurred when the U.S. Geological Survey contacted us in 2002 about Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. Since then, numerous people have contacted us for review or consultation on place names or naming opportunities in the Northeast, including Agiocochook Crag, the Isles of Shoals, Weirs Community Park Trails, Squaw Cove in Sandwich, NH, Mount Agassiz, and the Winnacunnet Estuary. 

When INHCC was formed, a key element of the collective in 2017 was to develop a Story Map Journal and blog. The mapping effort required extensive research for each place or feature on the map that could be identified by a historic Abenaki-Pennacook word or description.  INHCC has also concentrated on an on-campus UNH project to name the trails, walkways, bridges, stairs, and other campus landscape and infrastructure with Abenaki names. The focus area of this on-going project is the numerous trails and infrastructure features that are located in the ravine area between the main buildings on campus. Garrett Chapman, an INHCC member, UNH staff member, and NH Commission on Native American Affairs member, agreed to lead the project through the internal UNH process to get the proposed names approved for the creation and placement of signs on campus. Interdepartmental meetings have been ongoing and the project remains in progress.

UNH’s College Brook Ravine