here’s a roundup of the maps of “North American indigenous territories” I’ve seen on tumblr in the last two weeks. please note the following:
- save for the second one, none of them are dated. “pre-contact” is not a date. “colonial” is not a date. the first could mean 1500 or 1850 or anywhere in between. the latter could be any one of those dates, all the way up to the present. an ahistoric map is an uncontextualized map which means it is an essentially useless and ignorant map.
- they all contradict each other. which one is right? they were all drawn by white academics, so it’s hard to really know, huh?
- they all have major flaws and inaccuracies. there are at least 500 different tribes in N. America—none of these maps save the second to last one have that many listed, and that one is of Northern California alone!
Academics and cartographers will lie to you and say that it’s hard to know which lands belonged to whom in the “pre-contact days.” This is a reflection of their unwillingness to dialogue with indigenous peoples and knowledges than it is actual existing information, because you can bet Native peoples know which land is theirs.
They’ll legitimate “estimations” and “generalizations” for the sake of “general knowledge” that “indigenous peoples were there.” That’s part of a larger colonial narrative that tells us it’s okay to belittle indigenous histories and knowledges for the sake of ignorance produced by that same colonial narrative.
Finally, they’ll hide behind industry-granted authority grounded in objectivism—as if colonizers could ever be objective about the lands they’re colonizing. In the words of Fanon, “for the colonized person, objectivity is always turned against them.” This authority is granted by colonial institutions of power that actively works to the detriment of indigenous peoples and legitimates epistemic and material violence from academics and professionals. There is no such thing as objectivity, much less an objective map.
Aside from formal reservation boundaries, there are no maps in existence which adequately represent indigenous territories of North America (and even reservation boundaries are complicated and changing, and don’t include unrecognized tribes). What does indigenous territory mean? Is it legal landholdings? Cultural areas? Linguistic areas? Historic areas, and if so, from which time period? The only way to account for the multiple and varied iterations and meanings of “indigenous territories” is to create maps of extremely small areas, working from indigenous knowledges and histories. They would have to be something like 20x60mi on each page, and even then would require multiple iterations, taking historic change, varying definitions, and varying narratives into account (many boundaries are contested or overlap!). The final project would be a whole series of massive atlases.
Maps are an assertion of power. Think carefully what kind of power you’re perpetuating when using maps like these. For more information and to see other posts I’ve written on the subject (including the use of generalization & linguistic area maps), see these posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
The Principles of the Free UniversityThe Free University of New York City is an experiment in radical education and an attempt to create education as it ought to be. First conceived as a form of educational strike in the run up to May Day, 2012, the Free University has subsequently organized numerous days of free and open education in parks and public spaces in New York City. Our project is born out of a recognition that the current system of higher education is as unequal as it is unsustainable. With increasing tuition at public and private institutions, the increasing use of precarious adjunct labor, and the larger and larger amounts of debt that students are expected to take on, a university education is systematically becoming a rarefied commodity only available to the few. It is in this context that the Free University operates as a radical and critical pedagogical space. We collaborate on the following goals and principles:
- to be a cooperative enterprise working for a new form of education that re-defines what it means to be educators and students.
- to prefigure a more democratic, horizontal, and radical educational structure.
- to empower ourselves, each other, and our communities to become decision-makers in our own processes of self-education.
- to expose the inequities of the existing university system.
- to intentionally and conscientiously create educational spaces that are anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and anti-authoritarian.
- to fight against the casualization and precaritization of academic labor.
- to join others who see education as a form of direct action by withdrawing from the failing capitalist education system, and collaborating in the realization of a more accessible education for all.
In realizing these shared principles, we will reinvigorate the Commons by utilizing public spaces throughout the city. Free education is a right!!!
[image description: “A world-class education at your fingertips.” in black on a white background. Beneath that, from left to right: a blue & green logo, “Academic Earth” in caps and in black, and “Open Culture” in a bluish-white font on a light blue background. End description.]
More FREE online courses to take, & ways to earn your degree, without leaving your own home!!
Through Academic Earth, you can take courses in all of the fields below:
- Computer Science
- Social Sciences
- Art & Design
- Test Preparation
- Berklee College of Music
- Carnegie Mellon
- Case Western Reserve
- Dalarna University
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- George Washington University
- Gresham College
- IIT Delhi
- IIT Kanpur
- IIT Kharagpur
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- The City University of New York
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- Art & Art History
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- Engineering [Mechanical, Civil, and Electrical]
- Environment & Natural Resources
- Psychology & Cognitive Sciences
- Public Health
- BusinessEnjoy the over-abundance of free educational resources, and never stop exploring and expanding! And if anyone knows of any other great self-education resources, let me know!