My post just a few days ago focused on our Native American heritage and the tribes who resided along the borders of the Chesapeake Bay.
First Lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson
In my April 24, 2014, and December 3, 2012, posts we looked at our paternal Pocahontas ancestry–First Lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson (my third cousin), and our lineage to Pocahontas (my eleventh great-grandmother) through the ancient aristocratic Bolling family.
John Carpenter Ford
My post of January 12, 2013, mentioned my maternal great-grandfather, John Carpenter Ford, from Wake County, Raleigh, North Carolina and his Native American wife Mary Susan Morris. The irony of their relationship–he was the next to last survivor of the various Indian Wars that spanned 1865-1890–and four years after those wars ended we found them together in Washington, DC, where they married on September 15, 1894.
Once again, social media–this time, LinkedIn, helped me tie these people together and to understand the depth and the breadth of our Native American legacy across North America. Within a discussion on LinkedIn was an article with maps by Aaron Carapella, a self-taught mapmaker in Warner, OK. The maps he designed pinpoint the locations and original names of hundreds of American Indian nations before their first contacts with Europeans. Pictures of the maps and the article about Carapella and our Native American Tribes by Hans Lo Wang of NPR follow:
The Map Of Native American Tribes You’ve Never Seen Before
Finding an address on a map can be taken for granted in the age of GPS and smartphones. But centuries of forced relocation, disease and genocide have made it difficult to find where many Native American tribes once lived.
Aaron Carapella, a self-taught mapmaker in Warner, Okla., has pinpointed the locations and original names of hundreds of American Indian nations before their first contact with Europeans.
As a teenager, Carapella says he could never get his hands on a continental U.S. map like this, depicting more than 600 tribes — many now forgotten and lost to history. Now, the 34-year-old designs and sells maps as large as 3 by 4 feet with the names of tribes hovering over land they once occupied.
Carapella has designed maps of Canada and the continental U.S. showing the original locations and names of Native American tribes. View the full map (PDF).
Courtesy of Aaron Carapella
“I think a lot of people get blown away by, ‘Wow, there were a lot of tribes, and they covered the whole country!’ You know, this is Indian land,” says Carapella, who calls himself a “mixed-blood Cherokee” and lives in a ranch house within the jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation.
For more than a decade, he consulted history books and library archives, called up tribal members and visited reservations as part of the research for his map project, which began as pencil-marked poster boards on his bedroom wall. So far, he has designed maps of the continental U.S., Canada, and Mexico. A map of Alaska is currently in the works.
What makes Carapella’s maps distinctive is their display of both the original and commonly known names of Native American tribes, according to Doug Herman, senior geographer at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
This map of Mexico features both the original and commonly known names of some indigenous nations. View the full map (PDF).
Courtesy of Aaron Carapella
“You can look at [Carapella’s] map, and you can sort of get it immediately,” Herman says. “This is Indian Country, and it’s not the Indian Country that I thought it was because all these names are different.”
He adds that some Native American groups got stuck with names chosen arbitrarily by European settlers. They were often derogatory names other tribes used to describe their rivals. For example, “Comanche” is derived from a word in Ute meaning “anyone who wants to fight me all the time,” according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
“It’s like having a map of North America where the United States is labeled ‘gringos’ and Mexico is labeled ‘wetbacks,’ ” Herman says. “Naming is an exercise in power. Whether you’re naming places or naming peoples, you are therefore asserting a power of sort of establishing what is reality and what is not.”
Look at a map of Native American territory today, and you’ll see tiny islands of reservation and trust land engulfed by acres upon acres ceded by treaty or taken by force. Carapella’s maps serve as a reminder that the population of the American countryside stretches back long before 1776 and 1492.
Carapella describes himself as a former “radical youngster” who used to lead protests against Columbus Day observances and supported other Native American causes. He says he now sees his mapmaking as another way to change perceptions in the U.S.
“This isn’t really a protest,” he explains. “But it’s a way to convey the truth in a different way.”
Take a closer look at Aaron Carapella’s map of the continental U.S. and Canada and his map of Mexico. He sells prints on his website.