The United States seized more than 1.5 billion acres of land from Indigenous peoples between 1776 and 1887. That spans the land we call America from sea to shining sea.
I live on stolen land. You most likely do too.
Care to learn whose land you live on? There are digital tools. They are super-easy and free to use. Here are three options to get to the same information:
- Native Land Digital is a Canadian not-for-profit organization. Enter your zip code or city and state in the search box of the interactive map to see results instantaneously.
- Code for Anchorage is a simple online tool that uses the data from Native Land Digital to provide text information only. Likewise, enter your zip code or city, state.
- A text bot developed by Code for Anchorage is a simple alternative. Text your zip code or city and state (separated by a comma) to 907-312-5085. The bot will respond with the name(s) of the tribe(s) whose land you live on.
Acknowledging that we live on lands our forebears stole, in one way or a violent nother, is the smallest of first steps toward addressing our nation’s past and ongoing actions of racism/otherism. While I cannot change the past, I choose to participate in the good of the future.
A simple first step: I have looked up what lands I’ve lived on over the years, from coast to coast and a number of places between.
Here are the Indigenous tribes’ lands listed under the state names as we commonly recognize them. But the lands noted are specific to the cities where I lived in each state. The tribes listed for where you live, even in these states, might vary:
Ohlone and Rumsen
Colorado (current lands of residence)
Cheyenne, Jicarilla Apache and Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute)
Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) and Miami
Iowa, Kaw (Kansa), Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux), and Wazhazhe Maⁿzhaⁿ (Osage)
Missouri (where I grew up)
Kaw (Kansa), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Miami, Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux), Peoria, Sauk and Meskwaki, and Wazhazhe Maⁿzhaⁿ (Osage)
Jumanos, Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) and Nʉmʉnʉʉ (Comanche)
This is the short-list version of stolen lands I have taken for granted where I have lived. I also have passed through and/or spent time in all Lower 48 states and Alaska over the years.
You can learn more about this history of America from many, many sources. Libraries are full of them. And now there are interactive digital technologies like those named above. And these … You can ask Google. You probably can ask Alexa and Siri, too. (I haven’t tried those two; I don’t have them.)
What I have had the opportunity to do on two occasions for Humanitou is learn from the artist Gregg Deal, a member of the Lake Pyramid Paiute tribe whose contemporary visual and performing work speaks about and against the attempted erasure of Indigenous peoples.
I highly recommend that you read my two-part Q&A with Gregg, and listen to our conversation on the Humanitou Podcast, as a starting point.
Gregg shares truths that we, as a nation — and certainly those of us who fit the description of the most dominant, privileged and powerful, i.e., white — have conveniently ignored for centuries.
You won’t look at Christopher Columbus, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — and a bunch of other people and myths we’ve bought into — in the same way again.