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All I can tell you is, you mess with the names in Arizona and you're going to see this in your face (holding up his police badge). (Laughter). I've been waiting for that because you guys keep talking about the name police - I am one. Seriously, I'm Tim Norton. I'm the chairman of the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names. We have a little lower key way of doing that, but I'm probably the only cop that's a citizen member of a Board in the U.S., as far as you know, and have been since 1993.
Let me start by saying (a string of acronyms). Any of you got a clue what I'm talking about? Good. Now you know how we feel. We don't live in the Beltway. Can you get something that shows us what all these acronyms mean? Thank you. I call it the alphabet soup acronym syndrome. I will tell you a little bit about our Board. It's statutory; we have 9 members, two of which are public. I happen to be a governor's appointment from the public sector. The way I got there basically was the squeaky wheel got the grease. I started back in 1994, it took me 4 governors to finally get an appointment and I've been re-appointed in '98.
The importance of names issues and the State Board on Geographic and Historic Names in Arizona was recognized as far back as 1939. We take our statutory charge very seriously and we are offended by someone who tries to change a name or name a feature that is not named, and that includes the U.S. Board, and Roger can tell you that we have called and said, why did you do that? That's when I first got into the business, as folks were submitting name issues straight to the U.S. Board, and I looked at the statute and I said, excuse me, we're here, why aren't we doing that first and passing on it?; we're the local experts. They agreed, and we've had an excellent relationship ever since I've been involved with the Board - since 1993. We've also been a pain in their side sometimes, and I can get to that in a minute. We work very hard to research the names and to make sure they're not only politically correct but also historically correct, because that's one of the charges in our statute - to protect and preserve the historic record of the state of Arizona.
I'm a little concerned about the authority and the accuracy of the data in any digital gazetteer. Variant naming is another issue. An example - the Hopi tribe in northern Arizona has names for features in southern Arizona. The southern Arizona tribes have names for features in northern Arizona. They both have names for the same feature in Arizona. How do you handle that? I don't know - it's a question for you folks. Obsolete names, archaic names; the Native American community is extremely concerned that the names of their sacred sites are going to be publicized. We have worked very closely with the Hopi tribe; they have taken the sacred sites off of the maps and the names off of the maps to protect their heritage and their history.
On the variant naming, which source or authority are you going to go by? Feature typing is another thing that we've been talking about all day. Wilderness naming. Yes it's a pain for us because we don't see the big deal on putting a name on a map and a feature in the wilderness. I can talk about Roberta (because she's not here) from the U.S. Forest Service, a prior member of the U.S. Board. We've had long discussions about that. The other thing on the Native American side is the diacritical. How are you going to handle the diacritical marks in the Native American language? I can guarantee you that if you take out one diacritical, it changes the meaning of the word totally; it can be from black to white, stop to go, rain to sun, and we've worked very closely with the U.S. Board, they have adopted a policy that they are now recognizing that, and it was a result of 22 names that we changed on the Hopi reservation several years ago.
Standardization is fine but let's follow the U.S. Board's policies. It's been around since 1890. Basically we're saying, it works, don't fix it or change it. Maintenance and documentation: a couple of questions - how do you verify the original data to begin with? And how do you verify the authenticity of the changes that somebody puts into the system? And who does the data entry? Are you going to take a signature of somebody who submits it on a 3x5 card and says, this is now the name of that feature, or are you going to work with the state boards and I don't mean you, all of you, it's the digital group that's putting this together.
Keep it simple, as far as I'm concerned. I think Tom from NASA hit it on the head with a focus on the common user. You're looking at a common user; my wife Lesley and I are in the woods continuously and on the back roads using the products that you people are putting out. I'm not only the chair of the Board, but I'm a ground-pounder if you will, out there using the data. It's got to be accurate, because it frustrates the heck out of me when my GPS says something's over here when it's really over there. I saw something in the Landview 3; it has an 83-page tutorial - is that simple for the common user? I don't think so.
Just to share a short story with you. It's to the point where some of
you aren't getting it. The other night we were riding up an escalator out
of the metro, and we're standing to the right, we didn't want to walk up
the thing, and some lady came up behind us and said, you people will never
get it right, and we're saying, excuse me, we're standing on the right,
we're letting you walk by, why are you yelling at us? All we're trying
to say is, get it right and consider the user, the common user. Linda,
I thank you very much for the opportunity to be here and I only wish that
maybe a public member or a citizen common user could have been involved
in the process a little bit earlier on, and I will guarantee that if any
of you need the input from a common person, I'll be more than happy to
help you in the future. Thanks.