Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Native American Rhetorical Traditions

An introduction to Native American historical speeches and contemporary debates.

Native Painting/Drawing & Design


De Smet, P. (1851) Map of the upper Great Plains and Rocky Mountains region.

Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.


Native American Spaces: Cartographic Resources at the Library of Congress

This guide provides access to digitized primary sources, print bibliographies, and related online resources for the study of Indian and Alaska native people of the United States.


American Antiquarian Society

Early maps of the United States; contain visual representations of native peoples, both in the marginal vignettes and in cartouches. A link to the catalog here.


Historical Maps of the United States

A collection of maps presenting early inhabitants, exploration and settlement, territorial growth, military history. Hosted by the University of Texas at Austin Libraries. Links to historical maps placed on other websites.

Maxwell, C. A. & United States Office of Indian Affairs. (1889) Indian territory: compiled under the direction of the Hon. John H. Oberly, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, by C.A. Maxwell. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.


McConnell's Historical maps of the United States

A collection of historical maps from the Library of Congress.


Digitized Kansas Maps (Special Collections and University Archives at Wichita State University Libraries)

A collection of over 325 digitized Kansas maps, dating from 1556 to 1900.


Invasion of America (web application)

An interactive map of the US expansion across the continent. Invites the viewer to explore every Native American land cession by treaty and executive order between 1776 and 1887.


Interactive Time-Lapse Map (from Slate)

The map accompanies a book West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 and offers a time-lapse vision of the transfer of Indian land between 1776 and 1887.

West, C. (2020). “They Have Exercised Every Art”: Ecological Rhetoric, a War of Maps, and Cherokee Sovereignty in the Arkansas Valley, 1812–1828. Journal of the Early Republic40(2), 297–327.

This essay traces Cherokee diplomacy in the Arkansas River Valley in the decades before Removal. When white settlers challenged the Cherokees' worthiness to agricultural land, Cherokee leaders appropriated American scientific systems to block white settlers from Cherokee-claimed territory. The Cherokees' ability to enforce their geographical claims demonstrates how southeastern Indian nations influenced geopolitical power in the southern borderlands through controlling ecological language and scientific knowledge.


Siddons, L. (2020). Seeing the four sacred mountains: Mapping, landscape and Navajo sovereignty. European Journal of American Culture39(1), 63–81.

In 1968, photographer Laura Gilpin published The Enduring Navaho, which intentionally juxtaposes colonialist cartography with an immersive understanding of landscape. This article situates Gilpin's project within the broader historical trajectory of traditional Navajo spatial imaginaries, including the work of contemporary Navajo artist Will Wilson.


Martin, M. (2013). Bi’äñki’s Ghost Dance Map: Thanatoptic Cartography and the Native American Spirit World. Imago Mundi65(1), 106–114.

The article focuses on the history of the Native American cartographic system based upon the supernatural religious ritual called the Ghost Dance movement and the use of thanatoptic space as a symbolic representation of death and burial in maps during the 19th century. The author provides a brief history of the Ghost Dance, emphasizing that its use of cosmology influenced the rendering of the maps.


Chambers, I. (2013). A Cherokee Origin for the ‘Catawba’ Deerskin Map (c .1721). Imago Mundi65(2), 207–216

One of the few maps made by the indigenous population of the Americas and dating from the early eighteenth century to have survived, either in original or copied form, is the subject of this article. The map, on deerskin, was given to the new governor of South Carolina, Francis Nicholson, by an unknown Native American. After situating the map in its historical period and detailing the claims for a Catawba origin, these claims are refuted and evidence supplied for a Cherokee origin.


Willow, A. J. (2013). Doing Sovereignty in Native North America: Anishinaabe Counter-Mapping and the Struggle for Land-Based Self-Determination. Human Ecology, 41(6), 871-884.

Beginning with the premise that sovereignty may be most constructively contemplated as a process, this article examines counter-mapping as a way for contemporary indigenous citizens to “do” sovereignty. It surveys three Anishinaabe/Ojibwe communities’ recent use of geographical techniques to communicate their own territorial claims and counter the competing claims of others. The author suggests that indigenous people who choose to enact their sovereignty in this manner are indeed empowered, but only within an existing—and inequitable—socio-political system.