MAPPING INDIGENOUS AMERICAN CULTURES AND LIVING HISTORIES
IndigenousMap is the prototype for an open access digital map of indigenous America, which will supply a nation-wide, centralized and collaborative site for non-archaeological data when fully funded. The map will provide early prototype data for three nations, the Osage, Modoc, and Pomo/Miwok, within a digital map of pre- and post-contact Native American tribal and national regions, histories, and cultural practices. We envision this map as an online resource for the general public, around the world, to access maps and other tribally approved data related to indigenous peoples within the region of the United States. The prototype map will be constructed collaboratively with the creator of Native-land.ca, Victor Temprano, and with the support of members of the Osage, Modoc, and Pomo/Miwok nations. In light of the imperiled state of many indigenous languages, sites and cultural practices—as well as the lack of understanding and curriculum for students related to regional Native American cultures—the objective of “IndigenousMap” is therefore twofold: (1) to lower barriers to accessing and publishing information related to indigenous American history and culture for the benefit of people of all ages, identities/tribal affiliations, and educational levels, and (2) to provide a collaborative, digital documentation of indigenous cultures in America.
Our ultimate goal, looking to the future, is for the site to inform the public and scholars about not only basic cultural data in this prototype, but also many little-understood aspects of American Indian life across many nations (the existence of American Indian slave trade routes, the leadership positions occupied by women, the distribution of American Indians in military service), as well as indigenous history which could be used to benefit the nation as a collective (oral history, art and architecture, visual and ceremonial practices). This project will therefore fill a critical gap, consolidating, promoting, and providing an opportunity to showcase and consolidate other open access platforms that address questions ranging from the basic—are there still American Indians? Where do they live?—to scholarly inquiries, such as how did the boundaries of American Indian nations (for this prototype, the boundaries of the Osage, Modoc, and coastal Miwok) shift across centuries? To what extent are languages, art forms, and ceremonies of specific bands and villages of the Modoc, Osage, and Pomo/Miwok still practiced today? Most importantly, who makes the decisions related to access, and how can data be presented in a format driven by tribal consultation and collaboration? Our project seeks to address these questions in a manner responsive to the needs and cultures of American Indian nations.
Final Project and Dissemination: By the end of this project, we will have created the prototype for an online, open source mapping platform that achieves the broadest possible engagement among scholars, students, and the general public who wish to learn about indigenous cultures. “IndigenousMap” will allow scholars and the public, from the earliest grades through graduate school, to access information related to three American Indian cultures and their histories, as well as the locations of indigenous nations throughout the United States. Students and members of the public with disabilities that are non-visual will be able to navigate the map from their homes, and we envision future expansion of the project to add an audible component. We also envision a project in the future that increasingly adds data to a map of all indigenous nations in the United States. This project has the potential not only to educate the public about essential data, but also to document the continued presence and vitality of indigenous cultures, and help protect imperiled cultural languages and cultural practices. The broad vision of the humanities encompassed within this digital project has the potential—in its focus upon the first Americans in the present day–to provide a more inclusive and nuanced vision of what is understood as “American” history.