“To us, American History is how the big sea became little ponds.”
The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo
Settler colonialism, genocide and imperialism are often normalized in U.S. ideologies. Shift, Indian Country’s Changing Landscape offers a reversal of those ideologies into decolonial data-visualizations. Data of and from the Indigenous peoples of the area now known as the U.S. constitute Shift. Vine Deloria Jr., a Native scholar defines true liberation as “chang[ing] the way that Western peoples think, the way they collect data, which data they gather, and how they arrange that information.” Shift visualizes Indigenous data-sets (population, land area, wars, and treaties from 1400-2016) into an immersive and colossal, yet intuitive display to re-teach American history.
I began compiling a corpus of all Native American treaties from the Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties archive compiled by Charles J. Kappler. The search for this archive took an extensive period of time. The translation of the time spent searching for the almost hidden and secret archive is this piece; the treaty images are only visible through the magnifying glass.
After reflecting on my findings of the compiled data, I realized that these words were a part of manifesting what is now America. The flag displays the most used verbs with its associated frequency. This analysis was compiled with the Python programming language and the Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK).
The words are much more than words however, the words are seizure of lands, places, spiritual areas. My Lakota friend, Sinte Numpa, and I then began to geocode every treaty’s location. During the geolocating, I also began to georeference (convert to digital) historical maps produced by Dan Cole for the Handbook of North American Indians and geolocate every war, battle, and massacre. The decolonial map is the culmination of this research.