The Power of Maps – Writing 101

Carol A. Hand

I wonder how many people in the United States have thought about the portrayal of Native American land loss in the history and geography textbooks they studied in school? It seems a fitting time of the year to share the following maps as we head into the season when Native Americans are romanticized and exploited in other ways – Halloween costumes, Columbus Day parades and celebrations, and the myth of the first Thanksgiving feast.

The following animation shows the changing map of land ownership in what is now the United States. The first map in the following animation shows the remaining landholdings of Indigenous nations in 1784. Before Columbus’s arrival in the “new-to-him-and Europe” world, all of the land in the Americas was peopled by Indigenous nations.

Can you imagine the lives of Indigenous peoples as their homeland was overrun by those seeking land and resources to exploit? As they were attacked and driven from what had been their homelands for millennia, to new less desirable lands? And then, decades later, to lose many of the lands that had been promised as theirs forever in treaties between sovereign nations after the discovery of gold, coal, uranium, and oil on their reserved lands? All that is left now is shown on the map below, but even these holdings are threatened today.


Image: American Indian Reservations & Alaska Native Villages

Maps do tell stories, but often those in power choose which maps and stories to share. They have their reasons. The consequences of keeping ethnocide and dispossession invisible are evident today in the treatment of both the descendants of Indigenous peoples and those who are more recent arrivals.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
This entry was posted in Challenging the Status Quo and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The Power of Maps – Writing 101

  1. Lara/Trace says:

    If I could, I would sit at your feet and let you teach me for the next several years. THANK YOU!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. jabrush1213 says:

    I never looked at the map of the U.S. like this before. There is so much history with how America became the way it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Uncanny resemblance to the map of the Black Plague spread across Europe. Well, at least that’s what came to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Also mirrors the time-elapsed maps of decreasing land holdings of the Palestinians as Israel’s government stole tracts consistently over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, Carol, I’ve always hated what the white man did to the Native Americans. That and what they did by making slaves of the Africans are both horrendous crimes against humanity and I’m ashamed that it happened. I’m a patriot through and through but I would never have condoned such things and hope that none of my family was involved in such things. Hugs, N 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rosemawrites says:

    Oh I am not American but I can really feel your passion about this topic. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. sojourner says:

    As I watched the video, I thought, just like a disease spreading in the body, a cancer quickly killing off the healthy cells as it spreads!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent post, Carol. This is the basic story of capitalism – driving people off communal lands and denying them the means of subsistence. All in the name of private property and profit.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. dolphin says:

    Reblogged this on Dolphin.

    Liked by 1 person

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