Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Mapping The National Parks

[Detail] The Grand Canyon. Clarence E. Dutton, 1882.

2) Native Americans

Native Americans were the first people to name, live in, and use the lands of the national parks represented in this collection. For example, the Cherokee settled what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They considered this land the ancestral home of the entire Cherokee Nation. Students can use these maps to see evidence of the existence and influence of Native American tribes and cultures and to trace the movement of these people from their homelands to reservations. Students can begin by searching on the keyword phrase early maps to retrieve the oldest maps in the collection. Look for the cartographers' indications of where Native Americans lived and place names that were assigned by Native Americans. For additional maps, students can search across Maps on Indian.

These maps indicate the influence of Native American culture on the settlement, naming, and mapping by European colonists. They can be used as the basis for a class discussion about what information European explorers might have gained from Native Americans. For example, the native peoples might have known routes through treacherous lands and where to find needed resources, such as drinking water and food. What else can you determine, using the maps and your imagination, about Native Americans and their influence upon the settlement of the United States?

The 1884 map entitled Map of the former territorial limits of the Cherokee "Nation of" Indians can provide the basis for a discussion of the movement of Native Americans to reservations. Search on Indians of North America to find this map, and note its second title, Map showing the territory originally assigned Cherokee "Nation of" Indians. Students can compare the locations of today's Native American reservations with these original land designations. Have the locations changed? How have the boundaries changed?