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Interactive tribal map reveals which Indigenous lands you're actually living on

The map was created in the hopes of kicking off a conversation about colonialism past, present, and ongoing.

Interactive tribal map reveals which Indigenous lands you're actually living on
Cover Image Source: Native Land

This month marks yet another anniversary of the contentious Columbus Day which commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. For years, the federal holiday has been a political lightning rod for states, cities, and municipalities around the US with many now choosing to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day — a holiday to recognize the native populations that were displaced and decimated following the Italian explorer's arrival in the continent. "It's become a trend," Baley Champagne, a tribal citizen of the United Houma Nation who petitioned Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to make the change, told NPR.




"It's about celebrating people instead of thinking about somebody who actually caused genocide on a population or tried to cause the genocide of an entire population. By bringing Indigenous Peoples' Day, we're bringing awareness that we're not going to allow someone like that to be glorified into a hero, because of the hurt that he caused to Indigenous people of America," Champagne added. Although Columbus Day is technically still a federal holiday, i.e. recognized by the US government, for Native Americans it conjures the violent history of 500 years of colonial oppression at the hands of European explorers and those who settled here.




"Today we understand that while [Columbus] was an explorer and is credited with being one of the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas, we now know a great deal about the history and the way that he and his people behaved when they came to this continent," said Shannon Speed, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center. "Which included pillaging, raping, and generally setting in motion genocide of the people who were already here. That's not something we want to celebrate. That's not something anyone wants to celebrate."




Since it isn't possible to go back in time and change the course of history, the best path forward at this point would be to educate ourselves on the rich history of this continent and the Indigenous groups that lived on this land we currently occupy. This is made possible by an interactive Native Land map which is designed to show people where Indigenous groups once lived or the places they currently live in. According to Mashable, the map was created by Victor G Temprano, a Canadian who was "born in traditional Katzie territory and raised in the Okanagan."




"He began Native Land in late 2014 as a hobby project, after attending pipeline protests and beginning to look more into the traditional territories of different nations in relation to resource development," states the Native Land website. Speaking to CBC, the Vancouver-based web freelancer revealed that he'd logged thousands of hours developing the map. "The site wasn't built so Indigenous people know their territories better — they know them plenty well," said Temprano, who described himself as a settler in Canada. "A lot of settlers are not really aware of the situation with the land, and a lot of people are vaguely interested in it, but there aren't many resources to explore it. I'm really happy to see that it's becoming useful to Indigenous Peoples themselves."




"[The site] can be a little threatening to settler identity at times, because it has to do with who owns the land, and the history of colonialism," he added. "I made it as an attempt to just plant a few seeds in different people's minds. The idea would be to lead people gently into having historical consciousness. Maybe that can lead to awareness in other parts of their lives." Native Land is constantly being updated with user feedback and Temprano cautions that even with extensive resources, it cannot be considered an academic resource that adequately conveys the complexity of indigenous history. "The purpose of the map isn't supposed to be a historical curiosity," he said. Rather, it hopes to kick off a conversation about colonialism — past, present, and ongoing.

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