Monday, February 21, 2022

Colonizing America

In 1862 the U.S. government passed the Homesteading Act in order to encourage people to move west. Under the act people were offered 160 acres of free land. The only requirement was that they had to live on the land and farm it for at least five years. As a result of the 1862 act and later homesteading acts Native Americans were robbed of a huge proportion of their land in the American West.

The Digital Scholarship Lab of the University of Richmond has released an interactive map which allows you to explore the over 2.3 million claims made after the 1862 Homesteading Act. The Land Acquisition and Dispossession map also plots some of the raids, massacres and battles by which the indigenous people were dispossessed of their land during this same period. 

On the Land Acquisition and Dispossession map individual land office districts are colored to show the relative amount of land claimed or patented (red indicates a large number of claims, while green represents a smaller number of claims). The map also includes a timeline so that you can view the number of claims made in a specific year (at the state or territory level). 

The Digital Scholarship Lab admits that the map shows a far from complete picture of the frontier clashes by which Native Americans were dispossessed of their land. However this is addressed in a special section of the map which looks in more detail at Homesteading and Indigenous Dispossession

You can learn more about how Native Americans were robbed of their land on eHistory's Invasion of America interactive map. The Invasion of America visualizes Native American land cession 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 spread westwards by seizing Native American land through treaties and executive orders. The map reveals how the United States managed in a little over one hundred years to steal nearly all Native American land.


In the early 19th Century Texas was one of the most diverse regions in the North American continent. It was home to a number of Native American tribes. It was also home to a large Mexican population and a growing number of illegal immigrants from the United States.

After the formation of the independent Republic of Texas in 1836 relations between Native Americans and Euro-Americans was often strained. The nationalist faction in the new republic led by Mirabeau B. Lamar, advocated for the expulsion of all Native Americans from Texas. Conversely some of the Native American tribes, such as the Comanches, opposed the new republic.

The University of Texas' Border Lands interactive map is an attempt to document and map the locations of the many incidents of conflict between Native Americans and Euro-Americans in Texas during the period from the creation of the First Mexican Republic to the outbreak of the U.S.-Mexico War (1821-1846). 

The interactive Border Lands map includes three main views. The Timeline view allows you to explore all the mapped sites of conflict by date. This timeline view includes a date control which allows you to filter the incidents shown on the map by date range. It also includes an animation view which adds all the sites of conflict to the map in chronological order. The Heat Map view provides a a visualization of the density of conflicts by location. This view provides an overview of which locations in Texas witnessed the most violent conflicts during the period 1821-1846. The Fatalities map view uses colored markers to visualize all the violent conflicts between Native Americans and Euro-Americans by the resulting number of deaths.

Massacres in the United States is a fascinating but gruesome map showing the locations of the worst massacres in the history of the United States. The history of the United States is of course littered with many acts of extreme violence, from the slaughter of Native Americans by settlers to the massacre of African Americans.

According to the map the largest massacre in U.S. history occurred in the 1850's in California. Soon after California became the 31st state (in 1850) legislation was introduced giving settlers the right to organize lynch mobs and kill Native Americans. It is estimated that between 1856-1859 over 1,000 Yuki people were killed by white settlers. 

On the Massacres in the United States interactive map the colored markers are sized to show the number of people killed in each massacre. The colors of the markers indicate the massacre 'category' (Native American, African-American, Labor Unions etc). If you click on a category in the map sidebar you can filter the map to show only massacres from that category. For example if you select 'Native Americans' you can see that 19th Century California witnessed a succession of massacres carried out against the indigenous people.

Only massacres with 5 or more victims are shown on the map. The data for the map comes from Wikipedia, so only massacres with a Wikipedia entry are shown on the map.

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