The Geography and Map Division holds a very large group of maps, both historical and current, which in most cases were not intended specifically to describe the Indian environment, but which nevertheless record such cultural data as village locations and tribal range. A large component of this category and one of value for anthropological and archeological studies, is the series of maps that portray the landscape at the time of Euro-American contact and exploration. Since exploration of North America was an evolutionary process that began with maritime expeditions and continued almost four hundred years, maps illustrating the contact period for a coastal area may differ greatly in date from those of interior regions of the continent.
With the advancement of Euro-American settlement, much of the Indian cultural data recorded on early maps was replaced by depictions of the evidence of non-Indian occupancy. When these maps are studied over time, they can provide insight into tribal migrations, as well as intertribal and Indian / non-Indian relations.
This category encompasses thousands of maps dating from the time of first European contacts to the present. It includes small-scale maps of North America, general maps of the United States, early state maps, regional maps, county maps, and even some city plans. For example, large-scale county landownership maps and atlases published from the mid-nineteenth century to the present may provide information about Indian landownership and the sale of reservation lands. Even large-scale nineteenth century hydrographic charts of the Pacific coast published by the United States, Great Britain, and Russia often include the location of, and sometime significant detail about, coastal Indian settlements.
The maps in this category are valuable resources for Indian place names. When correctly deciphered, indigenous place names are linguistic artifacts containing environmental and historical meaning. In addition, early maps may record the trails and communication routes of aboriginal peoples, routes which have in many cases determined the course of modern roads and influenced the location of American cities and towns.
Modern mapping continues, at larger scales, to depict settlements, roads, names, and other cultural features of Indian reservations. The 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 scale topographic mapping of the United States by the U.S. Geological Survey, for example, portrays the current physical and cultural landscape of Indian reservations, a practice that has carried over into the current U.S.G.S. National Geospatial Program in the form of the National Map External
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 enlarged to view the detail.
This photograph of a manuscript map attributed to Spanish Royal Cosmographer, Alonso de Santa Cruz, was prepared from information derived from surviving members of the Soto entrada into the Southeastern United States. It shows the coast from the vicinity of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina to the Panuco River in Mexico, and the interior as far north as the Tennessee River. Among its 127 names and pictorial legends are approximately 60 settlements related to Native Americans. It is the only extant contemporary map attempting to illustrate the country explored by de Soto, and many of its names and legends are found in various accounts of the expedition.
The original is in the Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain.
French Huguenot artist, Jacques Le Moyne de Morgue, accompanied an expedition to settle French Florida in 1564. For several generations his iconic maps and drawings of the New World shaped Europeans' conceptions of Native lands and peoples. His 1591 map of the what is now the southeastern United States identifies the names of about fifty Native American communities along the coast and in the interior. Le Moyne's personal explorations were limited to the coastal areas, and thus the bulk of the information — some of it confirmed as accurate, some not — was obtained from geographical intelligence supplied by local Indians and reports of other Europeans.
Drawn by French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, and based upon observations and interviews with Native people along the North Atlantic Coast, this chart locates numerous French and Indian settlements, the latter identified by their original indigenous place names.
This pictorial manuscript map of Manhattan and its environs was copied around 1665 after a 1639 map by Joan Vingboons, the principal cartographer for the Dutch West India Company. In addition to evidence of Dutch settlement in Manhattan, the map features in the Brooklyn area four longhouses representing the Indian villages Wichquawank, Techkonis, Mareckweich, and Keskachauc. One of the settlements is noted as being "This is the type of houses the Indians live in." This is typical of the unexpected evidence of Indian settlement and culture that can appear on cartographic documents, but normally not considered resources for American Indian studies.
Based on a survey conducted over a ten-year period, this map by merchant, explorer, and local resident, Augustine Herrman, was published in London in 1673, and provided Europeans with the most detailed information about the Mid-Atlantic region since the publication of John Smith's map of Virginia in the early seventeenth century. Noteworthy is the map's careful delineation of the Tidewater rivers and streams, especially with the names of plantations and the locations of Indian houses, in addition to the Lenape villages in southern New Jersey and the residences of the Susquehannonock and the Choptico in Maryland. The names of various counties, plantations, and the original boundary line agreed upon by Virginia and Maryland in 1688 attest to the expanding British settlement in the region once in Indian hands during the seventeenth century.
For further information on this map see the publication, A Biography of a Map in Motion: Augustine Herrman's Chesapeake, by Christian J. Koot
This French map of North and Central America by Royal Cartographer, Guillaume de L'Isle, identifies the names and locations of the Moquis Pueblos of Arizona and the pueblos of New Mexico as they were known in the early eighteenth century, while the region was part of Northern New Spain. Also identified are the major Indian peoples of in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
This map was originally devised to recognize Spanish imperial control over Florida, which Spain asserted as extending north to the Chesapeake Bay (Bahía de Santa María) and west beyond the Mississippi River. A colored line in the map indicates the route of Hernando De Soto's sixteenth century entrada (1539-43) into the Southeastern part of the United States, and the Native American settlements he visited along the way. This copy of the 1742 map by Arredondo in the Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain, was prepared by José Luis Gomez in 1914 for the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress also possesses one of the original eighteenth century versions of this map under the same title and under call number H. P. Kraus Collection of Hispanic American Manuscripts, 156, Manuscript Division.
This handsome manuscript map draws upon territorial surveys undertaken by French military engineers and draughtsmen in eighteenth century Louisiana. The map appertains to the strategy devised by Governor Bienville for fighting the Chickasaw by using other American Indians as auxillaries. It covers the Mississippi River Valley from Memphis to the Gulf of Mexico as far east as central Alabama, and depicts numerous streams, routes, European communities, fortifications, and Native American settlements and place names in the former French colony of Louisiana. Extensive notes describe the various routes taken by the surveyors, especially those that linked the Choctaw villages with Fort Tombigbee and the Yazoo River, and the topography of the land encountered. Additional notes describe the Mississippi River drainage system.
Attributed to English fur trader, John Patten, this map covers the area from Lake Erie to Virginia, and depicts numerous Indian towns, trails, and portages in the Old Northwest Territory.
This first edition of John Mitchell's map of North America is one of the most important and complete cartographic documents in American history. It shows roads, frontier settlements, routes of exploration, Indian settlements, fortification, and deserted villages.
All Library editions of the Mitchell map are available for viewing via the Library of Congress.
This manuscript map depicts the lands in Georgia that the Cherokees have assigned for payments of debts in 1771. The inscription on the verso of the map notes that it was "Endorsed in Mr. Stuart's (No. 42) [sic] of 13 June 1772," and cites it as pertaining to ""Col. off. 5. vol. 73, pp. 321-322. Old A.W.I. 276." Also shows creeks and rivers, the "road from the Creek Nation to Augusta," and Forts Moore and Augusta.
This large and beautifully-drawn map illustrates the findings of the 1766-68 expedition under the leadership of the Marqués de Rubí to inspect every northern presidio with a view towards improving the frontier defenses of northern New Spain. All four sheets were drawn by Nicolas de LaFora of the Royal Corp of Engineers and Don José de Urrutia, an experienced military draftsman, both of whom accompanied the expedition. Depicted are existing and suggested pueblos, towns, villas, missions, mines, ranches, and haciendas. Also prominently shown are southwestern Amerindian nations, as well as the pictorial representation of Native American viillages ("Rancherias de Gentiles") as tepees.
For a fuller description and additional references, see the entry by Dennis Reinhartz titled "Spanish Military Mapping of the Northern Borderlands after 1750," pp. 57-79, in Mapping and Empire: soldier-engineers on the southwestern frontier, ed. by Dennis Reinhartz and Gerald D. Saxon (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005).
This map of the province of Georgia includes several trails and paths used for trading, locations of Native American settlements, the "Hunting Grounds of the Cherakees and Muskhogees," and generalized locations of Native American tribes.
This manuscript map covers Alabama and Georgia from the Tombigbee River in the west to the southern Great Smoky Mountains and the Savannah River in the east. It is accompanied by a statement given by a Creek member at Fort Strother, Alabama, to General John Coffee, who led troops under Andrew Jackson during the Creek Wars. The map depicts U.S. army forts, Creek settlements, streams and rivers, and trails, and includes a statement in which the Creek plaintiff claims knowledge and possession of the lands illustrated on the map. The lands are possibly those vacated by the Upper Creek (Red Stick) following the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814.
This detailed manuscript plan depicts the town of Statesburgh (Kaukauna), which was established by the Munsee and Stockbridge Indians on the south side of the Fox River, Wisconsin, along the rapids. Shown are roughly seventy-five buildings and tracts of land belonging to the town's inhabitants. Also depicted are Indian paths, a portage, a mission house, sawmill, land intended for a grist mill, a school house and school lot, a burying ground, a store, and Augustin Grignon's house and mill. Numbers appear to relate to a keyed legend, which is now lost.
Drawn by Father P. J. De Smet, a Jesuit missionary to the western Indians, this map was prepared to define tribal lands and limit tribal rivalries. Because tribal chiefs, Indian agents, military officers, and fur traders contributed to its contents, some scholars believe it was made in conjunction with the Treaty of Fort Laramie concluded in 1851 between the United States and several Plains Indian tribes. It is the most detailed and accurate record of the locations of mountain ranges, rivers, forts, and major trails of this region prior to the western railway surveys.
This 1851 map depicts the territorial divisions of the Native peoples of New York as they were in 1720. As indicated by the title, all geographical feature names are in the original Iroquois language. Map also identifies Indian villages, White towns, Indian trails, territorial boundaries, falls, and cold springs. It was prepared by Lewis H. Morgan, the American anthropologist, social theorist, and politician who collaborated with Ely Parker, Seneca attorney and tribal diplomat, to publish a study of Iroquois kinship and social structure, titled League of the Ho-dé-no-sau-nee, or Iroquois.
Map prepared to accompany the official reports of the trans-continental railroad routes. It depicts tribal territories, some villages, military posts, and routes and dates of expeditions and surveys.
This topographical atlas is one of two (the other being geological) prepared to accompany Lieut. George M. Wheeler's geographical surveys west of the 100th meridian, 1871-79. Wheeler produced nearly one hundred medium-scale topographic maps based on field surveys of the southwestern United States. The detailed maps within this atlas include Indian names and show the locations of Indian settlements, trails, and ruins.
The atlas is available in full as digital images through the Library of Congress Website.
U.S. military map of the Dakota Territory depicts tribal lands, forts, exploration routes, northern railroad survey routes, place names, streams and rivers, White settlements, extent of the Public Land Survey in the Territory, and relief.
This 1929 atlas shows physical, cultural, and cadastral information about Becker County, including coverage of a portion of White Earth Indian Reservation and concomitant references to Indian land ownership.
The full atlas is available as digital images via the Library of Congress Website.
The following maps are only available at the Library of Congress in the Geography and Map Reading Room in the James Madison Building of the Library of Congress.