Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Indigenous People's 'Cessions' Maps

During the 1890s and 1900s government clerks were tasked with researching the history of the land transfer treaties by which the indigenous people of the United States lost their land. These treaties were referred to as 'cessions'. The government clerks tasked with researching these cessions drew up hundreds of maps which visualized the boundaries of each treaty. 

You can explore these cession maps on the new IDA Treaties Explorer. The IDA Treaties Explorer is a project by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe and the National Archives Foundation. The Explorer allows you to browse and read the treaties made with native nations from 1722 to 1869 which are now in the US National Archives. The IDA Treaties Explorer also allows you to view the digitized cessions maps of these treaty boundaries. 

If you enter your zip-code or state into the IDA Treaties Explorer interactive map you can view the cessions maps for your area. Click on one of the cession maps from your selected area and you can see a list of the cession treaties which are covered by the map. Click on a treaty and you can view the cession number, the indigenous tribes named in the treaty and the official names of those tribes as they are known today.

The result of these land transfer treaties were disastrous for indigenous people. The vast scale of this disaster can be seen on the Invasion of America interactive map. The Invasion of America is a map of all the Native American land cessions between 1776 and 1887. During this period the United States seized over 1.5 billion acres from the indigenous people of the USA.

The Invasion of America map includes a powerful animated timeline feature which allows you to view how the United States grew westwards by seizing Native American land through treaties and executive orders. This animated map, showing how the United States managed in a little over one hundred years to take nearly all Native American land, is a very powerful visualization of how the West was truly won stolen. 

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