“Whose Land Do You Live On?” Reminds Americans Colonization Happened in Their Backyards #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

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The Native Land project is an interactive map that shows the geographic boundaries of original populations. Its a good reminder when considering what it means to be native or non-native.

Native Land ca Our home on native land

Via Scientific American:

As Christopher Columbus falls farther out of favor, the discourse has shifted to emphasize the voices that his story has silenced. This is particularly important as the United States grapples with defining what it means to be American. This identity is being wielded as a weapon within immigration politics. There are countless stories of widespread harassment in public spaces of people viewed as non-Native born Americans. On the edges of this, First Peoples have presented reminders that the Americas were populated prior to the arrival of Europeans and if anyone has a claim to being “American,” it is them. To this end, several instances of a reminder to know whose Native land you currently reside on was circulated on social media on Indigenous People’s Day—and a crowd-influenced mapping tool exists to help with this assessment, and prompt awareness and self-reflection.

Every day I travel into Lenape territory. I doubt they would recognize it today. In 1609 when Henry Hudson sailed into New York harbor, the island of Manhattan was a thriving natural ecosystem. Hudson documented chestnut, oak, and hickory trees as well as salt marshes populated by turkey, elk, black bears, and beavers. The Collect Pond, which was covered over at the present-day Foley Square, provided fresh water to Lenape villagers before the Dutch and English assumed control and eventually polluted the pond beyond use by building a tannery on its shores. Times Square was a red maple swamp and beaver pond. And Marcus Garvey Park overlooked what was likely a managed grassy plain.

Following Hudson’s report of his findings both the Dutch and the English set their sights on the new world. The Dutch returned almost immediately and established New Netherlands which ranged from Delaware to Albany. The settlement of New Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan was strategically placed to defend their fur interests higher on the Hudson River. It is alleged that the Governor-Director Peter Minuit traded for the island of Manhattan with the Lenape but no bill of sale has ever been found. And as the National Museum of the American Indian points out, there were likely multiple groups of First Peoples living in the area so could a land transaction have happened for land that did not belong to a particular group? One version of this legend maintains Minuit made the purchase from the Canarsie, but they resided in Queens, the western-most end of Long Island. There are also questions about the definition of the sale and whether the Dutch abused a land-use agreement—which would explain some of the subsequent tensions that arose as a result of wandering livestock.

Rearn more! and check out Native Land

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