Red-throated Loon (breeding) – hinkag̲áax̲i

Dictionary of Tlingit: not included
Tlingit Noun Dictionary: not included
Interior Tlingit Noun Dictionary: yikag̲áax̲i, hinkag̲áax̲i (Teslin) – red-throated or arctic loon
R. Littlefield Document: heenkag̲áax̲i – Loon, red-throated [or] arctic

Both the Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) and Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) – the latter recently split from Arctic Loon – can be found on the waters of Southeast Alaska in the winter. Red-throated Loons are also known to nest in the region, though Pacific Loons typically head north and/or west in the summer and are not known to nest in Southeast Alaska. However, the breeding range of Pacific Loons does include most of southern Yukon Territory and part of northern British Columbia and in those areas would overlap with Interior Tlingit country.

In breeding plumage, these species are not especially difficult to tell apart, as the Red-throated Loon has the distinctive red patch on its throat.

With the disclaimer that I am not a linguist, and would certainly appreciate correction, it looks to me like hinkag̲áax̲i is made up of smaller pieces. (If I manage to learn how to gloss stuff effectively, I can fix this later.)

  • hin from héen which is water (more or less)
  • ka- a relational noun relating to a horizontal surface or being on something
  • g̲áax̲ maybe the verb stem g̲aax̲ which is related to crying.
  • -i this does something, but I’m not clear on what, exactly

So in my naive understanding, this name might be something like ‘crying on the water’, which seems appropriate to me given the haunting calls they make.

More photos of Red-throated Loon:

Photos of Pacific Loon:

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