Indigenous Place Names as Part of Linguistic Diversity: Challenges to the Officialization of Indigenous Place Names


Wednesday 6 November, 12.00-12.30, B1005

In my paper, I shall discuss the tensions involved in officializing Indigenous place names in Norway and Aotearoa or New Zealand, namely challenges related to the official recognition of toponymy used in both the Sámi and Māori languages.  In both countries, the legal recognition of Indigenous place names is based on a Place Name Act. In addition, both countries also have a Language Act. The Māori language is an official language of New Zealand while the Sámi language has regional official status. The crucial questions are therefore, how is the toponymic policy implemented in practice, are Indigenous place names properly protected by law, and does the fierce resistance affect the effective implementation of toponymic policy? Examples will be given of how the debates reflect assymmetrical power relations and the impact of toponymic colonialism.