SIL International Media Release
River naming among the Waodani of Amazonia
(March 2009) SIL consultant Patricia M. Kelley, whose fieldwork was among the Waodani people of Ecuador, is presenting the paper, "Indigenous river naming practices: Escaping the challenges," at the 69th annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology. The theme for the 17–21 March conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is Global challenge, local action: Ethical engagement, partnerships and practice.
Waodani river names
Patricia Kelley presents research on the naming practices for rivers in Ecuador, South America. Her paper gives particular attention to river names that retain specific linguistic markers.
Most indigenous languages have not escaped global, regional and local sociolinguistic pressures and the impact upon their river-naming practices. In contrast, many of the river names in the Amazonian region of Ecuador maintain their indigenous forms, particularly in the territory of the Waodani (also known as Waorani).
Fieldwork data regarding influences, as well as language-specific examples, demonstrate the impact on river names and reveal surviving indigenous naming patterns. Among the Waodani communities of Ecuador, several factors have contributed to allowing these naming practices to escape typical challenges.
- Reputation of a Waodani, aggressive lifestyle
- Sociocultural and linguistic isolation
- Local, regional and international advocacy
- Vigorous language use