Here’s an interesting short documentary, via Aeon, on a project to make maps that bring an indigenous voice and perspective back to the land.
Native cartography: a bold mapmaking project that challenges Western notions of place
Maps have been used not only to encroach on Native Americans lands, but to diminish their cultures as well. With every Spanish, French or English placename that eclipses a Native one, a European narrative of place and space becomes further entrenched. In an effort to help reclaim his region for his people, Jim Enote, a Zuni farmer and the director of the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center in New Mexico, has organised a unique project intended to help bring indigenous narratives back to the land.
Maps remind us who we are, not just where we are. As he says in the documentary, “More lands have been lost to Native peoples probably through mapping than through physical conflict.”
Here are some other things I’ve found that show how important maps and names are. And if you’re wanting more idiosyncratic local history, there’s this from Atlas Obscura.
The cowboy cartographer who loved California
In final form, the maps are flamboyant and dense, giving an impression of near-limitless detail. “They’re almost like books,” says Hiller. “You look at a part of them and set it aside, and then come back the next day and look at a different part.” When he’s done exhibitions of Mora’s work, he adds, the maps in particular are “like magnets … People just get totally absorbed in looking at them.”