We probe the spatial distribution of the [C ii] μm fine-structure emission and its association with neutral and molecular gas in a 5′.7 × 3′.7 (∼3.3 × 2.1 pc2) region of the M17 SW nebula. Comparison of velocity-resolved [C ii] emission maps with other atomic and molecular tracers is possible for the first time with the dual band receiver GREAT on board the SOFIA airborne telescope. We detected [C ii] emission in a much broader velocity range than the CO-lines (Pérez-Beaupuits et al. 2012). Only [C ii] narrow channel maps at intermediate velocities (between 10 and 24 kms) show correlations with other molecular gas components, supporting a clumpy cloud scenario. At lower (< 10 kms) and higher (>24 kms) velocities instead, we see more than 60% of the region mapped in [C ii] that is not associated with other tracers of star-forming material, the so called “CO-dark” gas. Interaction with winds and outflows lead to substantial excitation of [C ii] emitting gas, so that ablation and shock-interaction have to be taken into account to model the observed [C ii] emission.