The Four Worlds International Institute

Turtle Island...


This term was coined by a writer in the 80's and was quickly adopted by Native Peoples for some reason. Perhaps the collective memory of our people had no universal name other than a European one and the catch phrase Turtle Island was adopted. I just don't know for sure. But I do know North America is not an Island nor is it shapped like a Turtle nor did  the People call the land after a pond reptile. It just makes no sense. there is no connection between the two. To clairify what makes more sense Trout Mountain or Trout Lake?


But what this land of North America was called by the People was Tanakiwinaki (Tana Ki Win Aki)


The literal translation is “homeland of the people”, but as in most Algonquin words more is going on in the word.  A fuller translation of tanakìwinaki would be “the people being of a place and having the knowledge of that place”.  The component of knowledge of the people is important when we consider that Algonquin is a knowledge based culture rather than a material culture; in essence, to know something is much stronger than to possess it.  The root word “tana” is an active word and when combined with “kamig”, as in “tanakamigad”, means happening now, being now, reality in practice and aki being the root word for people and land.  In understanding these relationships as they are defined in Anishnabemowin we can begin to understand that citizenship or proprietary ownership are not conditions that constitute “homeland”, but rather a complex relationship of knowing the land is essential to “people being at home” in the land.



(White Salmon with a Heart of Gold)

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Please Google  "Creation of Turtle Island"  There are many beautiful versions of this creation story that have existed for a very long time among many tribes.


Thank you for you kind reply Velma. Yes you are absolutely correct the creation Legends have been areound since creation. But what I am saying is that before the early 80's they was no mention of Turtle Island it is a new name because people did not know the Old name it was lost Tanakiwinaki is the correct Name and Turtle Island is a new nick name so to speak. Either name is fine just Tanakiwinaki is the proper name. Much like Kanata and Canada both are correct but the Original name is Kanata.


Again Velma Thank you for taking the time to reply it was good to hear from you.



Tanakiwinaki (Tana Ki Win Aki)

The knowledge and understanding of the land and all that walk, swim, fly and grow upon that land in woven into the people and I am honored to learn this word...I will use it and pass it down. Woiliwon,

Cetan Wanagi (Carole Blodgett)

(Spirit Hawk)

Oh my Spirit Hawk your definition is much more eloquent than mine and my I say even more correct than mine. The Aki had no concept of land ownership. How could a deer or an eagle own land? Land was where you lived and hunted and provided food for your family it belonged to all who knew of it and lived on it and people got called by either what they ate or a nearby landmark not to denote a seperate nation or tribe as we were all one family. It was used to know who you were talking about and where they could be found. Hence Tanakiwinaki all of the tribe names ended with Aki at one time and were changed as contact with french priests who wrote aki as ois. As in Iroquois or Sourquois in the south US english scholars wrote Aki as nee and kee as is Shawnee and Cherokee Shawnee is really Shawneaki so there is as much as I know little as it is.




Sorry, I did not reply earlier I just saw this! I did not know about this change in names but I am not surprised! I will add it to my knowledge base and thank you for sharing!

Spirit Hawk

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