Vol. 48 No. 3 (2000)
Research Article

Contributions of the United States Geological Survey to the Documentation of Alaska Native Names, 1950–75

Published 2000-12-01



The mapping of Alaska, primarily at the beginning of the twentieth century· and again just after the middle of the century, documented thousands of native-language placenames. A recent study of the placenames of a 3,800-square-mile area centered on the Stevens Village ancestral lands adjacent to the Yukon River provided the correct forms of more than 200 Athabaskan placenames, and rescued much of the oral system that had fallen into disuse. A systematic review should be undertaken of the approximately 3,000 Alaska native names collected in the 1950-75 period so that more accurate versions could be considered for adoption. An essential resource for such a review is Donald Orth's 1967 Dictionary of Alaska Place Names, which provides precise citations of sources.


  1. Jette, Jules. 1910. On the Geographical Names of the Ten’a. Spokane: Gonzaga U (MS file 14,drawer 13).
  2. Matthew, Margaret, Dave Lacey, James Kari, and Randy Mayo. 1999. Stevens Village Land Use Plan. Ethnogeography of Traditional Lands, and Integrated Resource Management Plan. Stevens Village Council.
  3. Orth, Donald J. 1967. Dictionary of Alaska Place Names. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper No. 567. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  4. Taylor, Tom, comp. 1958. Draft Field Map, Beaver Quad. Anchorage: USGS Mapping Division (No. NRIA-99148 in the National Archives,Anchorage).