Mapping Anishinaabe Kendaaswin: land, truth, and treaties through oral history

Joshua Manitowabi

Indigenous peoples have sought to be and are increasingly involved in the designing and selecting of content and methods of presentation of museum exhibits about their own cultures and histories. Maps have traditionally been used to situate a people in a spatial area and sometimes to graphically represent aspects of their culture. However, museum maps and historical cartography in general had ethnocentric and colonialist biases and thus misrepresented Indigenous peoples’ views of their territory, their cultural knowledge, and their histories. These maps tended to present Indigenous cultures, socio-political structures, and territories as static or disappearing rather than as vibrant, evolving cultures. This paper will examine the potential of Indigenous interactive mapping to facilitate greater Indigenous community involvement in portraying, preserving, and revitalizing their culture and relationship to their land. In addition, interactive mapping will be examined for its potential to address the limitations of static mapping in presenting a true Indigenous perspective.

Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France et des decouvertes que y ont ete faites

Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France et des decouvertes que y ont ete faites. Dressee sur plusieurs observations et sur un grand nombre de relations imprimees ou manuscrites. Par Guillaume Del'Isle, Geographe de l'Academie Royale des Sciences. A Paris, chez l'Auteur sur le Quai de l'Horloge al Aigle d'Or, avec Privilege du sa Maj. pour 20 ans, 1703.

This map has hybridized words of both Anishinaabemowin and French. If an Indigenous person can read and understand the Anishinaabe words in this map (1708), then some of the early history can come to light on the various Anishinaabe villages around Lake Huron during the early 18th century.

A new and accurate map of North America

A new and accurate map of North America. Bell, Peter (Geographer); Seale, Richard William; Bowles, Carington; Anville, Jean Baptiste Bourguignon. Created / Published: London, Printed for Carington Bowles, 1771. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

This is the Bell map of 1771 and it shows Manitoulin Island as being named Amicou Island. Amik is the Odawa word for Beaver, and it is the Beaver Clan people who were living on Manitoulin Island during the 18th century. The modern community of Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island translates to "Bay of the Beaver", and plural for peoples would be Amikwa.

Carte du Lacs du Canada, 1744

Carte des Lacs du Canada, 1744. Copy of a map of the Great Lakes Region of Canada, in black and white. Jacques Nicolas Bellin Date (Original)1744. Lewis University.

This map from 1744 shows the Amikwa clan (doodem) of the Odawa nation who were living on Manitoulin Island in 1744. During this time it was said that the whole island was burned and abandoned for 150 years, but according to the Odawa oral tradition, Manitoulin Island was not abandoned.

Joshua Manitowabi is from the Odawa and Potawatomi nations located in Wikwemikong, Ontario, Canada. He completed his Honors BA degree with a major in History and a minor in Indigenous Studies and his MA degree in Cultural Anthropology both at McMaster University. He is currently a PhD Candidate at Brock University. He was raised in a home with both of his parents being fluent in Anishinaabemowin (Indigenous language of the Odawa). His interests include helping Indigenous youth work towards decolonization and cultural resurgence. He is currently an adjunct Professor in Indigenous Studies at McMaster University. His current research includes critical cartography and cultural geography of the Great Lakes Anishinaabek and Haudenosaunee peoples during the eighteenth century. He is specifically analyzing treaty and governance history through the lens of the Odawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi peoples.