Non-Native Plant Species in North American Forests

Non-Native Plant Species in North American Forests – source:

Non-Native Plant Species in North American Forests – source:

Colonization can be a biological process as well a cultural one. As Europeans settled Turtle Island, they brought their entire ecosystem with them, introducing scores of non-native species to the continent. A non-native species is a species living outside its native distributional range, which has arrived there by human activity, either deliberate or accidental. Non-native species which are harmful to a local ecosystem are called invasive species. The term “invasive” is used for the most aggressive species. Although the numbers vary widely, some of the current research estimates that there are approximately 50,000 non-native species in the United States today. However, of that 50,000 species, approximately 4,300 are considered invasive species 1. These species grow and reproduce rapidly, causing major disturbances to the areas in which they are present, and threatening biodiversity. Approximately 42% of threatened or endangered species are at risk due to non-native, invasive species 2.

Endonyms of the World’s Landmasses

Endonyms of the World's Largest Landmasses, by Jordan Engel

Endonyms of the World’s Largest Landmasses, by Jordan Engel

An endonym is the name for a geographic location in the language of the people who live there. It is contrasted with an exonym, which is a place name in the language of people who are not native to that place. For example, “America” is an exonym given to continent by a German cartographer, Martin Waldseemüller, who had never been there, and who named it for another European cartographer, Amerigo Vespucci. There are, however, many endonyms for “America.” The continent is known as Kéyah dah siʼánígíí in Diné bizaad (Navajo), Ixachitlān in Nāhuatlahtōlli (Nahuatl), Posno choba ihaanosi in Albaamo innaaɬiilka (Alabama), and Awya Yala in Runa Simi (Quechua), among others. For the purposes of this map, the name that appears is from the language that is most widely used in that area. In some cases, like “Australia,” there are no widely used indigenous endonyms. Others, like “Antarctica,” have no indigenous human population at all, though English is often used as a lingua franca among the scientists who work there.

Landmasses (continents and islands) in order of area:
Location name in English: Location endonym (Language endonym [Language exonym]) “Translation”

Afro-Eurasia: 歐亞非大陸 (中文 [Chinese])
The Americas: Awya Yala (Runa Simi [Quechua])
Antarctica: Antarctica (English)
Australia: Australia (English)
Greenland: Kalaallit Nunaat (Kalaallisut [Greenlandic]) “Land of the Kalaallit”
New Guinea: Niugini (Tok Pisin)
Borneo: Kalimantan (Bahasa Indonesia [Indonesian]) “Burning weather island”
Madagascar: Madagasikara (Malagasy)
Baffin Island:  ᕿᑭᖅᑖᓗᒃ (ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ [Inuktitut])
Sumatra: Sumatera (Bahasa Indonesia [Indonesian])
Honshu: 本州 (日本語 [Japanese]) “Main island”
Victoria Island: Kitlineq (Inuinnaqtun)
Great Britain: Great Britain (English)
Ellesmere Island: Umingmak Nuna (ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ [Inuktitut]) “Land of muskox”
Sulawesi: Sulawesi (Bahasa Indonesia [Indonesian])
The South Island of New Zealand: Te Waipounamu (Māori [Maori]) “The waters of pounamu”
Java: Jawa (Basa Jawa [Javanese])
The North Island of New Zealand: Te Ika-a-Māui (Māori [Maori]) “The fish of Māui”
Luzon: Luzon (Tagalog)
Newfoundland: K’taqmkuk (Míkmawísimk [Mi’kmaq]) “Land across the water”
Cuba: Cuba (Taíno)
Iceland: Ísland (Íslenska [Icelandic])
Mindanao: Mindanao (Sinugboanon [Cebuano])
Ireland: Éire (Gaeilge [Irish])
Hokkaido: アイヌ モシㇼ (アィヌイタㇰ [Ainu]) “Land of humans”
Hispaniola: Haiti (Taíno)
Sakhalin: カムィカㇻプㇳヤモシㇼ (アィヌイタㇰ [Ainu]) “”Land at the shore of the God-made (river) mouth/confluence.”
Sri Lanka: ශ්‍රී ලංකාව (සිංහල [Sinhala])
Tasmania: lutruwita (palawa kani) *palawa kani does not capitalize the first letter of a toponym
Severny Island: о́стров Се́верный (Русский [Russian]) “Northern island”
Spitsbergen: Spitsbergen (Norsk [Norwegian]) “Pointed mountains”
Kyushu: 九州 (日本語 [Japanese]) “Nine provinces”
Taiwan: 臺灣 (Chinese]) Hainan: 海南 (中文 [Chinese])
Vancouver Island: Thi Skwithe (Hul’qumi’num [Halkomelem]) “Big island”
Timor: Timor (Bahasa Indonesia [Indonesian])
Sicily: Sicilia (Sicilianu [Sicilian])
Kotelny Island: Олгуйдаах арыы (Саха тыла [Sakha])
Sardinia: Sardigna (Sardu [Sardinian])
New Caledonia: Kanaky (Paicî)
Viti Levu: Viti Levu (Na Vosa Vakaviti [Fijian])
Hawai’i (Big Island): Hawai’i (ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi [Hawaiian])
Cape Breton Island: Únamakika (Míkmawísimk [Mi’kmaq])

*An earlier version misspelled the Ainu name for Sakhalin. Thanks to Charles Lippert for the correction.

The Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo

The four sacred mountains in Diné bizaad (Navajo)

The four sacred mountains in English and Diné bizaad (the Navajo language). Source:

Dinétah - meaning "Among the people," is the traditional homeland of the Diné (Navajo people).

Dinétah – meaning “Among the people,” is the traditional homeland of the Diné (Navajo people), between the four sacred mountains. Source:

The Four Sacred Mountains

The Four Sacred Mountains

In Diné Bahaneʼ (The Navajo creation story), it is said that the creator placed the Diné on land between four mountains, representing the four cardinal directions. The are the Dził Diyinii Dį́į’go Sinil – The Four Sacred Mountains in Diné bizaad (the Navajo language):
– Blanca Peak, the sacred mountain of the east – Sisnaajiní, “the dawn,” or “white shell mountain.” Associated with the color white.
– Mount Taylor, the sacred mountain of the south – Tsoodził, “turquoise mountain,” or “blue bead.” Associated with the color blue.
– San Francisco Peak, the sacred mountain of the west. – Dook’o’oosłííd, “the summit which never melts” or “abalone shell mountain.” Associated with the color yellow.
– Hesperus Mountain, the sacred mountain of the north – Dibé Nitsaa, “big sheep.” Associated with the color black.

Language Families of Africa

Language Families of Africa –

This map from Harvard’s AfricaMap project illustrates just how diverse the African continent really is. There are an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 languages spoken across Africa. The map shows 50 of the most commonly spoken according to Marc Felix and Charles Meurs’ 2001 book Peoples’ Atlas of Africa. The interactive map project lets you click on each feature to learn more, and you can add additional layers of environmental, health, religious data and more. 

The Ethnicity Felix 2001 layer consist of polygons and labels depicting ethnicity information based on the “People’s Atlas of Africa” by Marc Felix and Charles Meur, Copyright 2001. These shapefiles were created as part of the Center for Geographic Analysis’s AfricaMap project and were created based upon the People’s Atlas of Africa by scanning, georeferencing, and digitizing the paper atlas. Peoples of Africa Atlas: An ethnolinguistic atlas of Africa edited by Marc Leo Felix, director of the Congo Basin Art History Research Center, Brussels. Cartography by Charles Meur Limited edition in Spanish, 200 copies by Ediciones Oba-Barcelona. English edition, 800 copies by Marc Leo Felix – Tribal Arts s.p.r.l.-Bruxelles 50 color plates, 11 in black and white, A3 Format ISBN 2-930169-04-4


Global Forest Restoration Opportunities

Check out the interactive Atlas of Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities:

“The world has vast amounts of deforested and degraded forest landscapes that deliver limited benefits to both humans and nature. These areas of historical and recent loss provide opportunities for future gain. The maps in this atlas represent a first-ever global approximation of the extent and location of the opportunities for forest landscape restoration – opportunities to reduce poverty, improve food security, mitigate climate change, and protect the environment. The atlas includes maps on current forest coverage, potential forest coverage, forest condition, and human pressure on forest landscapes. The map of Bonn Challenge pledges describes the countries, regional organizations, and other entities that have made pledges toward the Bonn Challenge goal of restoring 150 million hectares of lost forests and degraded forest lands worldwide by 2020.

At least two billion hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded forest lands contain opportunities for restoration. The atlas provides a global overview of these opportunities, indicating where a more detailed analysis at the national or local scale is called for. Explore the maps to learn more about where restoration can become a reality.” – The World Resources Institute,

Quechua Country

Quechua Country in Runa Simi (Quechua), by Jordan Engel

Quechua Country in Runa Simi (Quechua), with English title, by Jordan Engel

Qhichwa Allpa (Quechua Country) in Runa Simi (Quechua), by Jordan Engel

Qhichwa Allpa (Quechua Country) in Runa Simi (Quechua), by Jordan Engel

These are the Runa Simi names for major cities, mountains, rivers, and lakes in western South America:

Amarumayu – The Amazon River
Amarumayu sach’a-sach’a suyu – The Amazon Rainforest
Antikuna – The Andes
Ariquipa – Arequipa, Peru
Atakama – The Atacama Desert
Awriq mayu – The Marañón River
Chiklayu – Chiclayo, Peru
Chimpurasu – Chimborazo volcano, Ecuador
Chimputi – Chimbote, Peru
Chuquichaka – Sucre, Boliva
Chuqiyapu – La Paz, Bolivia
Hatun Sach’amayu  – The Madeira River
Ika – Ica, Peru
Ikitus – Iquitos, Peru
Jujuy – San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina
Kitu – Quito, Ecuador
Limaq – Lima, Peru
Napu mayu – The Napo River
Pasto – Pasto, Colombia
Pillanwasi – Monte Pissis, Argentina
Piwra – Piura, Peru
Pukallpa – Pucallpa, Peru
Purus mayu – The Purus River
Putumayu – The Putumayo River
Putusi – Potosi, Bolivia
Puwpu qucha – Poopó Lake, Bolivia
Quchapampa – Cochabamba, Bolivia
Qusqu – Cusco, Peru
Salta – Salta, Argentina
Sanp’a mama qucha – The Pacific Ocean
Santa Krus – Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Santiago del Estero – Santiago del Estero, Argentina
Taqna – Tacna, Peru
Tarija – Tarija, Bolivia
Titiqaqa qucha – Lake Titicaca, Peru and Bolivia
Truhillu – Trujillo, Peru
Tucuman – San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina
Tumipampa – Cuenca, Ecuador
Ukayali – The Ucayali River
Uru Uru – Oruro, Bolivia
Wankayo – Huancayo, Peru
Waskaran – Huascarán mountain, Peru
Wayakil – Guayaquil, Ecuador
Yanamayu – Río Negro
Yuruá mayu – The Juruá River
Yuyayyaku – Llullaillaco volcano, Argentina and Chile

Because the majority of Quechua speakers live south of the chawpipacha (equator), this map is oriented south-up. The cardinal directions in Runa Simi are:
Uralan – South
Kunti – West
Chincha – North
Anti – East

Maya Country in the Contemporary Mayan Languages

Maya Country in the contemporary Mayan Languages, by Jordan Engel

Maya Country in the contemporary Mayan Languages, by Jordan Engel

The location of Mayan speaking populations. The Huastecan branch, spoken in communities much further north than the rest of the Mayan family, in not included in the Maya Country map.

The location of Mayan speaking populations. The Huastecan branch, spoken in communities much further north than the rest of the Mayan family, in not included in the Maya Country map.

The Maya peoples are a diverse group of indigenous peoples in so-called Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador, speaking approximately 30 distinct but related Mayan languages. In traditional Maya culture, the principle axis of the Maya Middleworld is the path of the sun, and Mayan maps are consequently oriented to the east.

Ahk’ìin Pech – Campeche, Mexico (Yucatec)
Armit – Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala (Kaqchikel)
Balún Canán – Comitán, Mexico (Tojolab’al)
Beelmopan – Belmopan, Belize (Yucatec)
B’oko – Chimaltenango, Guatemala (Kaqchikel)
Chactemàal – Chetumal, Mexico (Yucatec)
Chna’jal – Huehuetenango, Guatemal (Mam)
Chowáakha’ – Valladolid, Mexico (Yucatec)
Chuwila – Chichicastenango, Guatemala (K’iche’)
Ho’pelche’en – Hopelchen, Mexico
Holzuz – Belize City, Belize (Yucatec)
Itsamna’ – Izamal, Mexico (Yucatec)
Jo’ – Merida, Mexico (Yucatec)
Jobel – San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico (Tzotzil)
Kaan Witz – Doyle’s Delight, Belize
Kaank’uun – Cancun, Mexico (Yucatec)
Kob’an – Cobán, Guatemala (Q’eqchi)
Kusamil – Cozumel, Mexico (Yucatec)
Mamejuyu – Volcan Tajumulco, Guatemala (Mam)
Noj Petén – Flores, Guatemala (Itza)
Pacbitun – San Ignacio, Belize (Yucatec)
Ranchu – Villahermosa, Mexico (Chontal)
Sa’aal – Naranjo, Guatemala
T-K’áax – Tekax, Mexico (Yucatec)
T-Tsíimin – Tizimín, Mexico (Yucatec)
T-Xiib – Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico (Yucatec)
Tenahtsiik – Tenosique, Mexico
Ti’culí – Ticul, Mexico (Yucatec)
Tu’u’lu’um – Tulúm, Mexico
Tz’alama’ – Salamá, Guatemala (Achi)
Tz’iyuuq’ – Esquintla, Guatemala (Poqomam)
Tzolola’ – Sololá, Guatemala (Tz’utujil)
Ucutsin – Ocosingo, Mexico (Tzeltal)
Xahnil Na – Palenque, Mexico (Tzeltal)
Xamanha’ – Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Xeelaju’ – Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (K’iche’)
Xpujil – Xpujil, Mexico