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Native American Spaces: Cartographic Resources at the Library of Congress

Native American Trails and Places

Historical maps routinely depict networks of paths and trails established by Native Americans and those with whom they came in contact. They served as conduits of trade, communication, hunting, war, diplomacy, and cultural interaction. For several groups, roads, trails, and paths were imbued with cosmological significance, and over generations they became incorporated as tropes in rituals, folklore, and mythology. Early European settlers and traders were obliged to follow American Indian paths upon their arrival and subsequently for years afterward. Over time many American Indian routes evolved to became bridle paths, wagon roads, paved roads, and even highways, some of which survive today, at least in part, along their original courses. Today, while it is seldom possible to follow an old Indian path in its entirety, several travelers have attempted to reconstruct them from early maps, travel guides and journals, warrantee surveys, archeological reconnaissance, word of mouth, and field work. Archeologists, historians, and travelers are also keen to identify sites and artifacts associated with American Indian communities. These can include ancient villages and former sites of occupation, religious sites, burial sites, battle sites, monuments, memorials, and current settlements.

The following commercial guidebooks are a selection of those prepared to assist travelers in exploring Native American heritage in the United States. Each title listed below links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.