The Real Turtle Island & Other Turtle Islands
“Manataka” American Indian Council
Turtle Island: The Original Name for North America
The name Turtle Island comes from the Aboriginal Creation story
Turtle Island was renamed North America after a Spanish explorer, Amerigo Vespucci.
The Anishinaabek are one of the most widespread nations of the Aboriginal People of Turtle Island. There are Anishinaabek people living from The Canadian Sub-arctic across Turtle Island into Mexico. Many Native nations say that they are Anishinabek such as the Ojibway also called Chippewa, the Odawa, the Potawatomie, The Algonquins in Ontario’s North-East and others. There is many nations similar to the Anishinaabek such as the Algonquin related people in the East Coast, the Arapaho nation and the Tsitsistas nation, also known as Cheyenne in the Prairies, and the Yurok nation on the West Coast. The Anishinaabek language is a widely accepted aboriginal language in Turtle Island. The word Niiji is an Anishinaabek word originally used by the Ojibway and Cree to mean friend.
Lately Aboriginal People of Turtle Island often use the term Niiji to address each other and themselves equivalent to the meaning of the word Indian. The word Indian originates in one version from Spanish and in another version again from Spaniards calling Turtle Island Natives people from India, Indians. The term Niiji very clearly defines the person as an aboriginal from Turtle Island other than Inuit. When used today, the term Indian could refer to a person from India or to a person of any aboriginal nationality on any of the continents with populations that lead lifestyles similar to those of the aboriginal people on Turtle Island. Similar to the term Indians referring to Turtle Island aboriginal people, the aboriginal people in the Arctic were called Eskimos. The term Eskimo is not a term that the aboriginal people of the Arctic called themselves but rather a term used by Europeans that originated from the Cree language calling people raw meat eaters. Due to the term Eskimo not being a term the aboriginal people in the Arctic introduced, the term Eskimo was replaced by what the aboriginal people in the Arctic call themselves, which is the word Inuit. Inuk means man in the language of the aboriginal people of the Arctic and Inuit means men in their language. Their language is called Inuktitut. The word Niiji has already replaced the term Indian in many cases among Native youth and elders and it could completely replace the term Indian just like the word Eskimo was replaced by name Inuit.
Every Native nation in Turtle Island has it’s distinct language and name. The name Niiji doesn’t replace the names of nations; it replaces the wider term Indian that covers all Native nations and at the same time clearly refers to the aboriginal people of Turtle Island and excludes any other aboriginal nation also referred to as Indians. In Europe, Asia and Africa there are numerous nations with all of them acknowledging to be Europeans, Asians or Africans. Natives in Turtle Island that address themselves as Niiji, call themselves Niijis regardless of the nation they are from, just like Europeans, Asians and Africans call themselves Europeans, Asians and Africans.
People often talk about an Indian language and ignore the fact that just like there is no one single language spoken by all Europeans, there is no one single language spoken by all aboriginal people of Turtle Island. The name Niiji makes it clear that there is not one language spoken by aboriginal people of Turtle Island due to the fact that, there is no such thing as a language called Niiji. Just like there is not just one language in any of the continents, there is no just one language among the aboriginal people of Turtle Island.
The aboriginal people of Turtle Island have chosen to refer to their continent by the original name for it which is Turtle Island. They have chosen the flag with the four colors: white, yellow, red and black to be the general flag representing all aboriginal people of Turtle Island and in some cases also the non-aboriginals on Turtle Island. They have chosen a general symbol of the Medicine Wheel with the four colors, as the insignia of Turtle Island. The Turtle Island aboriginal people’s use of the name Niiji to address themselves is only natural.