March 24th, 2021 Last Updated on: April 4th, 2021
Do you know who owned your home before you did? What about who owned your land 500 years ago?
Native Land Digital, a Canadian nonprofit, has rolled out a website and app where users can enter an address and see which Indigenous nation used to own the land you're standing on. It's all part of an effort to raise awareness of the real lived history of Indigenous peoples in a long era of colonialism.
The Indigenous map doesn't include the actual legal boundaries of the nations, but it does provide a useful snapshot of what different nations used to call home. The Indigenous map also links out to several websites about Indigenous nations, treaties, and more for context.
“Native Land Digital creates spaces where non-Indigenous people can be invited and challenged to learn more about the lands they inhabit, the history of those lands, and how to actively be part of a better future going forward together,” the website states.
“What we are mapping is more than just a flat picture. The land itself is sacred, and it is not easy to draw lines that divide it up into chunks that delineate who ‘owns' different parts of [the] land. In reality, we know that the land is not something to be exploited and ‘owned', but something to be honored and treasured.”
View the Native Land Map
To expand and improve the map, Native Land Digital is asking for help from its users. They only require two “reasonable” sources of information for a nation or people to be added to the map. These could be academic sources, oral sources, historical sources, or others that they deem reasonable.
Of course, land acknowledgments are a step in the right direction—but they’re not a cure-all for Indigenous communities.
Here are a few other simple ways to support Indigenous communities:
- Donate your time and/or money to an Indigenous organization whose mission you support
- Participate in Indigenous-led grassroots movements and campaigns
- Create an Indigenous Land Acknowledgment statement using this guide from the Native Governance Center
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