An Interactive Map Reveals The Indigenous Groups That Lived Where You Do Now

The map is being shared in honor of Indigenous People's Day.

In recent years, more communities have veered away from celebrating Columbus Day and are instead recognizing Oct. 8 as Indigenous People's Day. In that same spirit, people from cities across the nation are learning more about the indigenous people that once resided in various parts of the country. You can now also take your historical knowledge of your neighborhood one step further, thanks to this stunning interactive map which allows you to uncover which groups once inhabited your current neighborhood.

Called Native-Land, the map is run by Canadian developer Victor G Temprano, who also oversees the company Mapster. According to the site, the map started in early 2015 "during a time of a lot of resource development projects in British Columbia." While mapping out pipeline projects, Tempora became curious about the history of the territories where these projects were taking place.

Using crowdsourced information, the map shows where indigenous people lived in parts of North America, South America, and Australia before being overtaken by colonizers. You can sort by territories, languages, and treaties, or simply plug in your own location to see which groups lived there first.

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For example, the map shows that Washington D.C. used to be the land of Pamunkey and Piscataway. If you click through on either of those links, the site will bring up additional websites and educational links where you can find more information about those specific groups.

Temprano says he also hopes the site will make people think more critically about maps and their intended purpose. "I feel that Western maps of Indigenous nations are very often inherently colonial, in that they delegate power according to imposed borders that don't really exist in many nations throughout history," he wrote in Native-Land's About page. "They were rarely created in good faith, and are often used in wrong ways."

As The Californian outlines, colonizers often used mapmaking as a tool to refute claims of native land rights or to divide and classify traditional homelands into new geographical properties.

While Native-Land can provide a fascinating look into the history of your home state or city, Temprano emphasizes that the map isn't a professional or academic project, but an educational tool that's constantly changing and adapting based on user input. You can take a closer look for yourself by visiting Native-Land.ca.  

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