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Native American Spaces: Cartographic Resources at the Library of Congress

Natural Resources

Natural resources have always been key elements influencing the choice of settlement sites, the level of subsistence, and the survival of a region's inhabitants. Historically, the identification and mapping of resources of economic value on Indian lands often have had the same effect of promoting non-Indian encroachment and the removal of native inhabitants. The demand for agricultural lands and the search for mineral deposits are the most obvious examples, but other resources, such as timber, water, and grazing lands, were also often sought on Indian lands and occasionally depicted on maps. The natural resources of present-day reservations have been, in many cases, the principal means of tribal income, and modern maps of the soils, geology, mineral deposits water, climate energy, timber and agricultural potential of reservation lands are all aids to decision-making regarding issues of land use, economic development, and conservation.

The extent of thematic mapping of natural resources varies for each reservation, but in general there is little coverage for most reservations in the collections of the Geography and Map Division. Some pertinent earth sciences maps will, however, be included with scientific publications, and can be found in the Library's General Collections rather than the Geography and Map Division.

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.


Map of the Part of Georgia Occupied by the Cherokee Indians, 1831

John Bethune. A map of that part of Georgia occupied by the Cherokee Indians, taken from an actual survey made during the present year 1831, in pursuance of an act of the general assembly of the state : this interesting tract of country contains four millions three hundred & sixty six thousand five hundred & fifty four acres, many rich gold mines & many delightful situations & though in some parts mountainous, some of the richest land belonging to the state. By John Bethune, Surveyor Genl. of the State of Georgia. 1831. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Map depicts roads, towns, villages, and gold mining sites in northwestern Georgia, an area formerly occupied by the Cherokee Indians. Below the title is a printed advertisement reading. "This interesting Tract of country contains four millions three hundred & sixty six thousand five hundred & fifty four Acres, many rich Gold Mines & many delightful Situations & though in some parts mountainous, Some of the richest Land belonging to the state."

Map Illustrating the Extermination of the American Bison

William Temple Hornaday. Map illustrating the extermination of the American bison / prepared by W.T. Hornaday ; compiled under the direction of Henry Gannett, E.M. 1889. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

The confinement and weakening of Plains Indians tribal culture was concomitant with the demise of the American bison, their chief source of sustenance, and long the symbol of the American West. This map results from the expedition of Smithsonian taxidermist and zoologist, William Temple Hornaday, to retrieve specimens of American bison. Distressed by the near extinction of the species, he issued a report that included this map of North America that dramatically illustrated the contraction of the bison's range across several stages, from its historical range across North American, to its diminution from hunting, to its subdivision by the transcontinental railroads, to the reductions of the southern and northern herds by slaughter, and to their restricted habitats by 1889. Figures in red identify the bison's extermination over specific localities by year, while figures in green identify their localities and numbers as of January 1, 1889.

Premier series map of Oklahoma and Indian Territory, 1905

Geographical Publishing Co. Premier series map of Oklahoma and Indian Territory. 1905. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

This 1905 map of the Oklahoma and Indian Territory delineates, by way of red boundary lines, Indian nations, in addition to Indian, forest, grazing, saline, and wood reservations. Includes gazetteers of Oklahoma and Indian Territory, as well as population figures from the 1905 territorial census, and lists of territorial officials and assembly representatives, administrative and judicial districts of the Oklahoma Territory, and tables of distances.

Additional Maps in the Library's Collections

  • Carte Particulaire du Fleuve Saint Louis dressee sur les Lieux avec les Noms des Sauvages du Pais, des Marchandises qu on y Porte, & qu on en Reçoit & des Animaux, Insectes, Poisson, Oiseaux, Arbres & Fruits des Parties Septenrioes: & Meridiones: de ce Pais. Henri Abraham Chatelain. ([Amsterdam]: [Henri Abraham Chatelain], [1732?]). Map, 28 x 32 cm. Scale 1;11,000,000. Filed at United States — Great Lakes region — [1732] — 1:11,000,000 — Henri A. Chatelain.
    This French map stresses France's economic influence over the Great Lakes Region of United States and Upper Mississippi River, especially with regard to its trade relations (particularly in furs) with the Algonquian-speaking tribes of the area. It depicts various French and English forts and settlements, Native American villages, nations (Algonquin) destroyed by the British, lands prosperous with beaver pelts, rivers and streams, and portages, and also includes notes regarding specific features. Map includes several lists, including a list of fifty tribes grouped by region; a list of the kinds of pelts obtained from the Indians, along with their values; and a list of European merchandise commonly exchanged with the Indians. Also includes lists of North American mammals, birds, river and lake fish, shell fish, insects, and trees and fruits,
  • Sketch of Public Surveys in New Mexico & Arizona to accompany the Annual Report fo the Commissioner of the General Land Office for 1866. [Washington, D.C.:] Department of the Interior, General Land Office, 1866. Colored map, 54 x 71 cm. Scale ca. 1:1,850,000. Filed at New Mexico — 1866 — G.L.O.
    Map shows gold, silver, and copper deposits situated within the lands occupied by Indian nations.
  • Classification Map of Creek and Seminole Nations / Prepared for the Bradley Real Estate Co. Ricksecker, Hackbush and Patton, Civil Engineers. Muskegee, I.T.: Bradley Real Estate Co., [ca. 1890s]. Colored map, 68 x 63 cm. Scale ca. 1:250,000.. Oklahoma — Indians — 189-?.
    The discovery and mapping of economic resources of Indian lands often promoted non-Indian encroachment on native territory. This map, prepared for a local real estate company within Indian Territory, classifies the agricultural potential of lands of the Creek and Seminole Nations, identifying the prime lands that the allotment system would possibly make available for White settlement.
  • Map of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation showing the Mountainous Region Proposed to be ceded to the U.S. Government, also a part of Flathead and Deer Lodge Counties. Made by Ross Cartee. 1896. Colored map, 56 x 62 cm. Scale ca. 1:126,000. Filed at Montana — Indians — 1896.
    This map of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana includes text entitled "Opening of the Ceded Mineral Strip of the Blackfeet Reservation," which describes the mineral potential of the land ceded in 1895 to the federal government.
  • The Rosebud Indian Reservation of South Dakota: Map and Guide to Quality of the Soil. Omaha: C. J. Conner, 1903. Colored map, 65 x 56 cm. Scale ca. 1:90,000. Filed at South Dakota — Indians — 1903.
    In addition to coverage of soil and vegetation types, this map designates lands allotted to the Upper Brulé Sioux (Sicangu Oyate).
  • Part of Uinta Indian Reservation, Utah, To be disposed of under Act of March 3, 1905, and President's Proclamation dated July 14, 1905. I. P. Berthrong. Washington, D.C.: U.S. General Land Office, [1905]. Colored map, 65 x 15 cm. Scale ca. 1:130,000. Filed at Utah — Indians — 1905.
    Map depicts grazing lands, proposed Indian timber reserve, allotments, mining claims, water reserved for Indian irrigation, and water reserved by the U.S. Geological Survey for irrigation.
  • Plat of the Ceded Area Shoshone or Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming, to be opened for settlement, Aug. 15, 1906. By proclamation. Compiled and Published by Edward F. Stahle and Frank M. Johnson, surveyors, Cheyenne, Wyoming, 1906. (Cheyenne, Wy: Stahle and Jonson, 1906). Colored map, 58 x 62 cm. Scale 1:190,000. Filed at Wyoming — Indians — Wind River Reservation — 1:190,000 — Stahle & Johnson.
    Map of the Wind River Reservation shows lands to be opened to settlers on August 15, 1906. Keyed legend identifies lands allotted to Shoshone, area opened to settlement, mineral belts, coal belts, lands suited for agriculture, recommended forest reserves, irrigation canals, and roads. Includes an inset of Wyoming depicting the ceded Shoshone lands in relation to the state.
  • Graphic summary of the Tewa Basin study by the Indian Land Research Unit in cooperation with United States Forest Service [and] Soil Conservation Service. Prepared under the direction of Mark W. Radcliffe. [Albuquerque:] U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Land Division, 1935. Atlas, with photographs. Call number G1507.T4 U5 1935.
    Atlas contains fifty-eight maps, accompanied by aerial photographs, illustrating the soil types, soil erosion, vegetation, geology, timber, population, endemic diseases, and ownership of cultivated lands in the Tewa Basin of New Mexico.
  • Land Resources of Southeast Alaska Native Villages: an inventory of lands withdrawn for native selection in Southeast Alaska under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Juneau: Sealaska Corp., 1973. Call number G1531.G1 S4 1973.
    Atlas of southeast Alaska includes coverage of timber, water, mineral, soils, and man-made resources.
  • Soil survey of Colorado River Indian Reservation Arizona-California / United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service; in cooperation with United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station, and California Agricultural Experiment Station. [Washington, D.C.?]: Soil Conservation Service, [1986]. Call number S599.A7 N45 1986 (General Collections).
    This publication contains twenty-six 1:20,000 scale maps detailing the location of various soil types on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Arizona and California.
  • Northern Cheyenne Integrated Resource Management Plan: Atlas. [Billings, Mt.: U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Billings Area Office, 1988?].
    An atlas of fifteen maps illustrating forest, agricultural, mineral, oil and gas, rangeland, and recreation resources.