Aaron Carapella, a Cherokee Indian and Oklahoma native, has created a map of the original 595 tribal nations of America and their areas of residence—labeled in their own languages—prior to European contact. Of those 595 tribes, 150 are without descendants and are now considered extinct due to genocide, disease, or tribe consolidation.
Dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive tribal maps while studying Native American history as a student, Carapella sought to compile all of the historical Native American tribes into one all-inclusive map. “The maps in the books were kind of cheesy, they only had maybe 50 to 100 tribes on them,” he told Tulalip News last year. “I didn’t want to make a map with just tribes’ given names on it. I wanted it to be accurate and from a Native perspective.”
And so it is. Extensively researched, the map gives the historical and original names of each tribe, shedding light on the common misconception that tribes only inhabited specific parts of the country.
To get the information he needed to give the map its Native perspective, “Carapella spent thousands of hours poring through books, traveling the country and making countless phone calls to the tribes that still exist,” the Navajo Times reported.
Relative to Oklahoma, the map shows that only a few tribes originally had established their homeland in what would later be called Indian Territory; most tribes were forced to migrate there during Indian Removal.
“To be honest, in general in the United States, Americans are very ignorant about Native American history and the only time they deal with Native history or reality is when tribes have enough money to fight back against injustice happening to them. In my small way, making this map is to reinforce the true history of the injustice and the genocide that occurred,” Carapella told Tulalip News.