BC Geographical Names

Name Details:

Name: Atnarko River
Feature TypeClick here for a list of
Feature Types.
:
River - Watercourse of variable size, which has tributaries and flows into a body of water or a larger watercourse
StatusClick here for an explanation of Status.: Official
Relative Location: Flows W from Charlotte Lake then NW into Bella Coola River, Range 3 Coast Land District
Latitude-LongitudeClick here for an explanation of Position Type.: 52°22'37''N, 126°05'20''W at the approximate mouth of this feature.
DatumClick here for an explanation of Datum.: NAD83
NTS MapClick here for an explanation of NTS Map.: 93D/8
Related MapClick here for an explanation of Related Maps.: 93C/3
93C/4
93C/5
93D/8
  Nearby names within
  

Origin Notes and History:

Adopted 7 February 1947 on 93 SW, as labelled on BC Lands map "Bella Coola", 1905 et seq and as listed in 1930 BC Gazetteer.
Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office
Labelled "Driver River" on G.M. Dawson's map of British Columbia between the Fraser River & Coast Range, 1875-76. Labelled "Stillwater River" on other map(s) or publications (titles/dates not cited). Isabel Edwards advises "..the river flowing W out of Charlotte Lake has always been called the East Fork..." (February 1961 letter, file A.1.53)
Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office
According to Father Ouilette, Atnarko means "river of the Coast Indians" where in the Coast Salish language aht means "people (of)", and ko means "river"; these people were driven from the Interior by the Carrier Indians.
Source: Provincial Archives of BC "Place Names File" compiled 1945-1950 by A.G. Harvey from various sources, with subsequent additions
"From a Chilcotin Indian word meaning "river of strangers" (ie. the Indians from the Coast)."
Source: Akrigg, Helen B. and Akrigg, G.P.V; British Columbia Place Names; Sono Nis Press, Victoria 1986 /or University of British Columbia Press 1997
"The etymology [in the Provincial Archives' Place Names File, citing Father Ouilette] is incorrect: To begin with, there is no "Coast Salish" language in the vicinity. Nuxalk/Bella Coola is a Salishan language and is spoken on the coast, but it does not belong to a "Coast Salish" subgroup. Indeed, there is no group recognized by linguists with that name. The Salishan languages of the BC coast other than Nuxalk, such as Squamish, Sechelt, and Halkomelem, belong to the subgroup known as "Central Salish". Nuxalk is considered an isolate within the Salishan family, not part of any of the three major subgroups. In any case, "Atnarko" is not of Salishan origin. Rather, it is an anglicization of the Carrier name for this river, which in the Carrier Linguistic Committee writing system now in general use is 'utnakoh. Here -koh is the combining form of 'ukoh "river", while 'utna means "non-Athabascan Indian", that is, one who speaks a language not readily identified as related to Carrier. The statement that "these people [the Nuxalk] were driven from the Interior by the Carrier Indians" is most likely wrong. The isolated position of the Nuxalk among non-Salishan neighbours is a long-standing problem, but it is not even clear whether they represent a migration from the interior across the Chilcotin or are the remnant of a once connected Salishan population cut off by the southern movement of Athabascans, though the latter is probably the leading hypothesis at present. In neither case would it be accurate to say that they were driven from the Interior by the Carrier." (advice contributed August 2011 by linguist William J. Poser, Prince George.)
Source: included with note
Headwaters at 52 12 - 125 29 on 93C/3.
Source: Canadian Geographical Names Database, Ottawa