By Jonathan Davis
My name is Jonathan Davis and I am a Mapstoryteller at Arizona State University. I would like to take the time to tell you about some of the exciting research/mapstories that I am currently working on pertaining to American Indian Reservations. By degree, I have been trained as a historian who has enjoyed studying American diplomatic relations. In particular, I have been fascinated by the diplomatic relations of the United States with the continent’s indigenous people (Native Americans) and how the United States’ push towards manifest destiny has affected (displaced) American Indians. This seed of interest led me to begin developing a series of mapstories detailing the creation of American Indian Reservations as well as what legislation/events led to their establishment.
At present, I have just created the first mapstory in the series that provides a general overview of the establishments of American Indian Reservations in the United States:
To create this mapstory, I began my research by looking for a suitable shapefile (If you have seen my mapstory you know I didn’t want to have to digitize all of that!). Finding the shapefile proved difficult at first, because the Bureau of Indian Affairs did not have any good data for me to use with the only shapefile on record being a California Reservation map.
I finally had a breakthrough on finding a good shapefile to begin my work at the Nationalatlas.gov . If you have not used this site for any of your stories you may want to check it out, it contains some interesting maps and shapefiles that may be useful for projects that you are working on.
The only draw back to using the shapefile that I found at Nationalatlas.gov was that it did not contain any temporal data, and to my dismay there was not a comprehensive list to be found anywhere detailing Indian Reservation establishment dates. So, to complete this project it was necessary to investigate each individual reservation and find out the date it was established by examining treaty records or the residing tribes personal websites (This took some time). If there was a reservation missing from the shapefile I digitized it and added it to the rest of my database.
The Mapstory “American Indian Reservations 18th Century to the Present” was a lot of work, but upon completion it was well worth it.
I do plan to add additional mapstories in this theme within the next couple of weeks. Future projects in the American Indian diplomatic relations include: the development of the Navajo Reservation, American Indian Reservations in California, Revolutionary treaties: New England Indian Reservations, American Indian Reservations in Arizona, and US Conflict History with its Native peoples. I would be welcome to additional ideas to add to this subject.
If you want to get in touch, create an account on MapStory and send me a message!