Skip to Main Content

Native American Spaces: Cartographic Resources at the Library of Congress

Historical Maps and Atlases

In general there has been limited effort to produce historical cartography portraying the wide range of social, political, economic, and cultural themes of Indian life. Historical coverage is usually limited to depicting ethnographic or linguistic distribution, battle sites, and the locations of villages and reservations. Exceptions are found in a few atlases, including a Comparative Studies of North American Indians (1957), Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History (1987), Atlas of American Indian Affairs (1991), Atlas of the North American Indian (2009), and Atlas of Indian Nations (2013), all of which contain historical coverage of a broader spectrum of Indian matters, and which are cited in the next section titled Published Reference Sources. More generalized coverage of Indian history is usually in thematic and historical atlases of the United States and in individual state atlases. In spite of their deficiencies, historical maps can prove to be valuable resources not only for their recreation of past events — both correctly and incorrectly — and for their documentation of tribal distribution and habitation sites, but also for what they reveal about the prejudices, state of knowledge, and cultural values of the times in which they were produced. And, although Naive American participation in the two major world wars of the twentieth century is well-documented, maps depicting their roles — either as infantrymen or as code talkers, i.e transmitters of coded tactical messages — are virtually non-existent, save for the second item on the list.

Digitized Maps

The maps in this section have been digitized by the Library and are available for viewing and download online. Select the link on the map or in the caption to view a copy of the map that can be enlarge to view the detail.


Satirical Pictorial Map Depicting Westward Expansion, 1828

Anthony Imbert. A new map of the United States with the additional territories : on an improved plan, exhibiting a view of the Rocky Mountains surveyed by a company of Winebago [i.e. Winnebago] Indians in 1828. [1828?]. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

This pictorial map satirizes America's westward thrust in the late 1820s by depicting expansion as a struggle between an alligator and a turtle, knotted at their tails, moving in opposite directions. They are mounted by ten Anglo-American promoters or investors. At the top of the scene is a group of ten Native Americans, commenting on the action below.

Map Showing Native American Participation in World War I, 1925

United States. Adjutant-General's Office, cartographer. The North American Indian in the World War. 1925. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Prepared after World War I, this map depicts Native participation during the War, including the twenty-eight sectors where they were awarded military decorations in France and Belgium. Also indicates the locations of graves of Indian war dead and noted battles in which they fought. An inset includes a "Special sketch of noted battlefields, comprising Verdun & Meuse, Argonne & St. Mihiel operations, where the Indians occupied so many sectors and won such fine distinction"; whereas a series of three lines and dots indicate Dr. J. K. Dixon's line trips over the battlefields as leader of the Rodman Wanamaker Historical Expeditions to the North American Indian in Europe.

Additional Maps in the Library's Collections

  • Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States. Charles O. Paullin, edited by John K. Wright. [Washington, D.C., New York] Pub. jointly by Carnegie institution of Washington and the American geographical society of New York, 1932. Call number G1201.S1 P3 1932.
    Considered comprehensive for its time, the atlas contains coverage of Native American distribution, wars, reservations, and missions.
  • Indians of the U.S.A. Louise E. Jefferson (New York: Friendship Press, Inc., c1944). Colored map, 50 x 81 cm. Scale not given. Call number G3701.E1 1944 .J4.
    This pictorial map by prominent African-American artist and designer, Louise E. Jefferson, reflects a genre of maps published in the United States in the twentieth century. The map identifies prominent Native American individuals, places, and occupations, as well as notes several events pertaining to American Indian history. Like other pictorial maps, it was used to illustrate world cultures in an educational setting.
  • Hearne Brothers Indian History Series. Hearne Brothers. Detroit, 1960-. Filed separately by each state under subject category "Indian."
    In the early1960s, Hearne Brothers published a separate large wall map for each state illustrating pre-contact tribal ranges, settlements, historic sites, and reservation boundaries. Textual information about the tribes within the state is included on the verso of each map.
  • Atlas of Early American History: the Revolutionary era, 1760-1790. Lester J. Cappon, editor-in-chief. [Princeton, N.J.] : Published for the Newberry Library and the Institute of Early American History and Culture by the Princeton University Press, 1976. Call number G1201.S3 A8 1976.
    Atlas includes maps of Indian villages located in the eastern U.S. in the 1760-94 time period.
  • Atlas of Native History. Jack D. Forbes. Davis, Ca.: D-Q Univ. Press, [1981]. Call number G1201 .E1F6 1981.
    Atlas contains seventeen maps showing tribal migrations and distributions.
  • Historical Atlas of Arizona. Henry P. Walker and Don Bufkin. 2nd ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, c1986). Call number G1510 .W3 1986.
    Atlas includes chapters on Arizona's pre-historic civilization; Indian ethnic populations ca. 1600; Spanish and Anglo exploration and settlement; development of Indian reservations, 1859-1912, especially those of the Apache, Hopi, and Navajo; and the exploitation of natural resources, such as mines, forests, and irrigated lands.
  • Historical Atlas of Washington. James W. Scott and Roland L. De Lorme. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, c1988). Call number G1486 .S1S3 1988.
    Atlas of Washington State includes chapters on Indian migration, archeological sites, Indian tribes ca. 1790-1820, Indian population ca. 1820, linguistic groups, and reservations, as well as the fur trade, missions, Indian wars, and Native American place names.
  • Historical Atlas of Kansas. Home E. Socolofsky and Huber Self. 2nd ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, c1988. Call number G1456 .S1S6 1988.
    Atlas of Kansas includes maps and information on early Indian tribes in the state, homelands of emigrant Indians in Kansas, early Indian missions and modern reservations, Indian treaties, and Indian place names, as well as federal land disposal, railroads, and cattle trails.
  • Historical Atlas of the United States: centennial edition. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1988. Call number G1201 .S1N3 1988.
    This pictorial atlas includes coverage of a number of aspects of Indian culture, politics, land use, and wars.
  • Historical Atlas of Louisiana. Charles R. Goins and John Michael Caldwell. University of Oklahoma Press, c1995. Call number G1361 .S1G6 1995.
    Historical atlas of Louisiana includes chapters on pre-historical cultures; Louisiana Indians in 1700; Indian populations and ethnic groups of southeastern, northeastern, northwestern, and southern Louisiana; immigrant Indians; and Spanish and French contact and settlement.
  • Mapping America's past: a historical atlas. Mark C. Carnes and John A. Garraty with Patrick Williams. New York : H. Holt, c1996. Scales differ. Call number G1201.S1 C3 1996.
    This modern historical atlas of the United States contains an introductory section on Pre-Columbian American, which addresses the first peoples of North America, myths of the mound builders, origins of Indian languages, and contrasting European views of Native Americans as savage tribes or sovereign nations, and also includes chapters on European ecological imperialism, the impact of diseases on indigenous communities, Indian removal, and Anglo settlement of the West.
  • Atlas of American Migration. Stephen A. Flanders. New York: Facts on File, Inc., c1998. Call number G1201 .E27F5 1998.
    Historical atlas of the impact of migration on the United States contains maps and information on pre-Columbian migration; the impact of settlement in the Spanish borderlands, New France, Russian Alaska, and the British colonies; the consequences of western expansion on Indian life and culture; the Trails of Tears and forced Native American migration; and the closing of the American frontier as a result of Manifest Destiny.
  • North American Indian cultures : a legacy of language and inspired ideas / Allen Carroll, chief cartographer ; produced by National Geographic Maps for National Geographic magazine . . . Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society, c2004. 2 maps on 1 sheet : both sides, col. ; 79 x 52 cm. and 52 x 79 cm. Scales [ca. 1:13,950,000] and 1:8,427,000. Call number G3301.E1 2004 .N3.
    Issued as a supplement to the September 2003 edition of National Geographic, this has two maps on one sheet: a map of North America depicting major linguistic families, with a list of twenty groups; and a map titled Indian Country covering the United States that indicates the locations of reservations and trust lands, health services, pow wows and festivals, cultural centers, and tribal colleges. Also includes American Indian and Alaska native population figures, a top row of portraits of prominent Native Americans, and a bottom row of insets illustrating lost lands.
  • Historical Atlas of Oklahoma. Charles Robert Goins and Danney Goble. 4th ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, c2006. Call number G1366.S1 M6 2006.
    State atlas of Oklahoma includes over thirty chapters with maps and information relating to Indian affairs in Oklahoma, including pre-historic societies; formation of the Oklahoma Territory and removal of the Five Southeastern Tribes; mission, academies, and schools; the development from tribal nation to statehood; leases, land openings, and allotments; and the impact of commerce, transportation, population change, education, and the arts on Native American life in Oklahoma in the twentieth century.
  • A Chickasaw Historical Atlas. Stanley Nelson. Ada, OK: Chickasaw Press, c2018. LC call number G1367 .C55S1 N4 2018.
    Atlas reproducing over 160 maps from the period 1723-2012 that depict Chickasaw lands, and include references to the Chickasaw. Maps, both manuscript and published, produced by Native American, Anglo-American, and European cartographers.