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The 1491 Census: Native Creates Tribal Nations Map of Turtle Island
It took him 14 years and thousands of hours, but Aaron Carapella finally did it. He created a map that represents what Turtle Island looked like in 1490. It shows where roughly 590 Native nations were located and gives their indigenous names, instead of the names given by Europeans.
Being part Cherokee, or Aniyunwiyah, and having grown up in the city, he’s always sought more knowledge of Native history and culture.
“I would attend pow pows and scour through the items vendors had for sell [sic]. From time to time I would see maps of the traditional territories of our tribes, but thought they looked incomplete, and the names mostly inaccurate. I filed away the idea of one day creating a more authentic-looking one myself,” Carapella says on his website. “Years went by as I looked from time to time for a better map. One day I decided, ‘It’s time to make a REAL map of Native America, as WE see it.’ It started with four poster boards and a rough pencil drawing of the United States. Over the next 14 years I would create the Tribal Nations Map.”
The process of collecting the real names of tribes was a tedious one. He studied books, and called tribes individually.
“Some tribes, once contacted, wouldn’t know that information,” he told the Tulalip News. But the tribe always got back to him with someone who could tell him what he needed to know to continue his research.
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