Native America


This map is a powerful statement of history. It highlights the temporary and arbitrary way we draw lines over land and call it our own. The map shows how Native American tribal areas stretched from "sea to shining sea". Then, over time, our present American states were created. It shows America "before" it was "settled" by Europeans.

(Click for a larger view)

One idea for a potential project is to connect the map to Wikipedia articles about these tribes, or making a new wiki specifically for native american tribes, and anyone is welcome to collaborate. The long-term goal will be to promote the map as an educational tool, and to raise some revenue through sales of post cards and posters, in order to make the project sustainable.

There are also some additional thoughts and contact information below the map. Thanks for visiting. Feedback is welcome.

Additional comments:

I saw this map for the first time years ago, and it has always struck me as a powerful, thought-provoking tool. I like the idea of making it available to more people, and stimulating discussion.

I don't feel guilty for living in America - I think America comprises all nations, because it is made up primarily of people who came from other countries; and I believe in democracy. Just as with other countries, America has issues, and it's people are imperfect. They are human. And in the history of the world, America has been there to help other parts of the world - such as in World War Two - if America hadn't existed as a strong nation, the war might have turned out differently.

But if you look at the history of the country, many tribal peoples were displaced, and though I have only a partial understanding of the history of treaties that were signed with tribes - it seems that in many cases, treaties were broken. And as this map shows,

Do I think everyone in America should just leave? No. But I think that as a society, regardless of whether you believe in a higher power or not - you might at least agree that we have the potential for a collective conscience. I do happen to believe in a higher power, and I believe that higher power has a long memory of what's been done - and I also believe in the possibility of a collective conscience. And I am not a pantheist or syncretist, but I also believe that the land has a memory - that sometimes the fruit that a tree bears says something about the fruit. The Native Americans weren't perfect "environmentalists", but they certainly lived in a more sustainable way than we do now.

So to me, I think it would make a lot of sense to honor the memory of those who have been wronged - and not to look at the world through a lens of bitterness, or to condemn, but to understand, and to try and find ways of making peace with the past, and listening to the descendants of the Native American tribes - to learn about their stories - to honor the tribes. Not in servile guilt, but in respect, in justice. To me, it feels like in this country, with all the resources it has - that we should do more to support the tribes, through capturing their history, and through supporting current tribes, in terms of education, and a better system than we currently have.

When I look at this map, it seems like that's the least we could do, given what has passed.

-Todd Kelsey

Feedback: tekelsey "at" gmail "dot" com