Opinion: Maps represent destruction of Native people in US

US Nations map with no borders. Map by Aarron Carapella

Writer discusses what a map of the United States looks like from indigenous eyes:
Westboro Baptist Church recently announced they would bring their colorful posters and seething vitriol to Anchorage, Alaska, and picket outside the Native Heritage Center on June 1.

Their reasons are as follows: Indigenous people “make a religion out of the pagan idolatrous practices of past generations,” and there’s “nothing appealing or holy about the ‘heritage’ … or ‘diverse population’” of places like Alaska.

While it’s easy to dismiss this as the outlying aggression of a fringe hate group, in reality, it’s far from unique. U.S. and Canadian history are filled with the de-legitimization, destruction and appropriation of Native cultures – a practice that’s barely subsided today.

Its legacy can be seen in our most basic institutions. The very geography of the U.S. reflects how mercilessly our government crushed the over 500 indigenous groups who’d built societies, civilizations and raised generations of families long before Europeans invaded.

The map above is a good illustration of where these tribes once prospered. It supposes how the "lower 48" might have looked if current state territories mirrored the pre-Columbian names of the indigenous groups who lived in the vicinity.

Yet even this is a limited representation: Another map painstakingly developed by Aaron Carapella delves even deeper into the true diversity of the tribes, many of which were either wiped out, forcibly relocated or decimated to a fraction of their former numbers.

Get the Story:
Zak Cheney-Rice: How the U.S. Might Look if We Recognized Our Native American Roots (Policy Mic 4/21)

Related Stories:
Hate group plans to protest at Alaska Native Heritage Center (4/16)

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