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Michigan State University

Native American Studies Research Guide: Atlases & Maps


These resources present information in graphic formats.

Maps in the MSU Libraries

Most individual maps and atlases are located in the Map Library on the 3rd floor of the west wing in the Main Library.

There are a number of methods for identifying what is available in our catalog:

  1. Choose Advanced Search.
  2. Enter an appropriate search term(s) such as Great Lakes or Michigan
  3. Select Material Type - Print Map
  4. Click Submit
  1. Choose Advanced Search.
  2. Enter an appropriate search term(s) such as Great Lakes
  3. Select Location - Map Library
  4. Click Submit 
  1. Choose Advanced Search.
  2. Enter an appropriate search term(s) such as Great Lakes
  3. Select note - map
  4. Click Submit

Need more information about what is available? Ask the Map Librarian

The Invasion of America Video Graphic

"The invasion of America".   Article by Claudio Saunt appearing in Aeon, January 7, 2015. The story of Native American dispossession is too easily swept aside, but new visualisations should make it unforgettable.

Native Tribal Maps of the U.S. and Mexico

Hansi Lo Wang, "The Map Of Native American Tribes You've Never Seen Before", Code Switch : Frontiers of Race, Culture, and Ethnicity (via NPR), June 24, 2014.

Finding an address on a map can be taken for granted in the age of GPS and smartphones. But centuries of forced relocation, disease and genocide have made it difficult to find where many Native American tribes once lived.

Aaron Carapella, a self-taught mapmaker in Warner, Okla., has pinpointed the locations and original names of hundreds of American Indian nations before their first contact with Europeans.

Native American Nations : Our Own Names and Locations  (Print copy available in MSU Map Library)

Tribal Nations Map : Our Own Names and Locations

Indigenous Nations of Mexico : Our Own Names and Locations

Ordering Information

Old Indian Trail : Cadillac to Traverse City

For background, see Frank Ettawageshik,"The Old Indian Trail from Cadillac to Traverse City", December 4, 2015.

Indian Sites Located in Bay County

courtesy of the Bay County Historical Society.

Related information: History of the Saginaw Valley Indians (1865)

Maps & Atlases

Map of the surveyed part of the territory of Michigan.(1825). Made by Orange Risdon. Engraved in Albany, New York by Rawdon, Clark & Co, and published by Orange Risdon. The population of the entire Michigan Territory at the time was somewhere between 17,000 and 40,000 people, of which about 7,900 were Native Americans and the balance European-descended settlers. In the map detail of Detroit we can see the clash of land division systems: Old French long lots meet up with Judge Woodward’s Ten Thousand Acre Tract and are filled in all around with the U.S. Public Land Survey System.  To the southeast we can see part of Ontario, Canada, where Windsor was still called “Sandwich.”  Significant sites of the War of 1812 are noted on the Windsor-Essex Peninsula. The map also shows numerous Native American reservations.  The map detail showing the Saginaw area shows three 640 acre (1-square mile) reservations granted to three people in the U.S. treaty with the Chippewa Nation in 1819. This map is not on public display (as it doesn't fit inside the exhibit case) but is available for viewing upon request in the MSU Map Library.  Click here for a view of the entire map.  Note that you can zoom in and see Indian reservations on the northern edge of the map and in the southern edge too.  I spotted Chippewa, Wyandot, and Ottawa reservations.  MSU Map Library Blog , September 9, 2013.

Map of the States of Ohio, Indiana & Illinois and Part of Michigan Territory: Compiled from the Latest Authorities.Drawn by D.H. Vance, engraved by J. H. Young. Published in Philadelphia by A. Finley in 1825.  This map wonderfully illustrates a point in time when the states made from the Northwest Territory were only partly formed and partially surveyed and subdivided.  One can see how the most detailed survey work commenced along the Ohio, Mississippi and Detroit Rivers and spread up and out to the hinterlands....Here we see Michigan beginning to take a more modern shape.  As the federal surveyors spread out over the state, they measured on the ground what had before only been estimated.  Ten counties so far had been marked out, surveyed, and divided into survey townships.  Such division prepared the land for claiming, buying and selling....Michigan was still only a territory at this point and not a state.  The states of Indiana, Illinois and Ohio were better known and better settled.  Much of these lands were not available for European-American settlement, being in the hands of Native American groups including  Sauks, Foxes, Pottowatomies, Kickapoos, Ottawas and MiamisMSU Map Library Blog, August 26, 2013.

1837, A Map of the Acting Superintendency of Michigan by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.  Somehow the map ended up in private hands.  It was offered to the MSU Libraries but was repossessed by the U.S. government through replevin and now resides in the National Archives.  Both the private owner and the federal government provided us with a reproduction of the map which our Map Library scanned and made available here.  Also provides estimates of Indian populations at various locations.   Henry Rowe Schoolcraft estimated the entire Native American population of Michigan to be 7,621. : MSU Map Library scanned map.

In 1837, the year Michigan attained statehood, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft estimated the Native American population to be 7,621.


Related : Bibliography of the printed maps of Michigan, 1804-1880, with a series of over one hundred reproductions of maps constituting an historical atlas of the Great lakes and Michigan, by Louis C. Karpinski, PH. D., including discussions of Michigan maps and map-makers, by William Lee Jenks, A.M.  Lansing, Mich., Michigan Historical Commission, 1931.  Available in Special Collections, Map Library and the Main Library Stacks.  Also available online via the HathTrust.

MAC Opening Day Map still indicates where Native American used to camp.along the Red Cedar River:

Archaeological atlas of Michigan / Wilbert B. Hinsdale.  Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 1931.  [3] p. ℓ., 38, [2] p. : illus., maps (1 fold.), diagrs. ; 62 cm.  MSU Map Library (3 West) Permanent Reserves  F568 .H63 1931 : Michigan is to be congratulated on having joined Ohio and New York in a detailed record of its aboriginal sites, and to have had this undertaking entrusted to a veteran like Hinsdale.  The large folio Atlas reviews trails, waterways and portages, mounds and earthworks, villages and campsites,burial grounds and garden beds, and mining, as well as noting  the archaeological features of separate counties. The smaller work reviews the distribution of the aboriginal population with reference to environment, sources of food, and concentration. It makes clear that the density of population was almost directly proportional to the amount of maize grown in Michigan today by Caucasians. A secondary center lay along the two great inter-lake straits in the north.  The northern copper-bearing shores were of course frequently visited, but little inhabited. The data assembled could have been accumulated only through years of labor. They are presented at once compactly and painstakingly, and so far as an outsider can judge appear accurate. If any fault is to be found with the presentation it is on the score of the arrangement of data on the basis of counties. This is, of course, as a rule most convenient  for the local citizen on whose cooperation the building up of a survey like this necessarily depends; though the outsider would naturally prefer a classification in terms of drainage or other natural areas. This, however, is a venial and perhaps debatable point in a piece of work of which the University of Michigan and the state may well be proud, and for which archaeologists elsewhere will be grateful.

American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States Wall Map : Maps of American Indian geographic areas by name of the village or reservation. Viewable or downloadable in .gif or .pdf format.  Courtesy of the Census Bureau, 2002.

American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States Wall Map.  Provides 2011 pdf version of maps, but slow loading.  Courtesy of the Census Bureau.

2010 Census - Tribal Tract Reference Maps.  These federal American Indian reservation-based maps show and label tribal census tracts and tribal block groups as delineated to support 2010 Census data dissemination. These maps also show the boundaries and names of American Indian reservations, off-reservation trust lands (ORTLs), Alaska Native areas, Hawaiian home lands, states, counties, county subdivisions, and places. Additionally, these maps display a base feature network including roads, railroads, and water bodies. These features are labeled as map scale permits. Each entity is covered by one or more parent map sheets at a single scale. An index map showing the sheet configuration is included for all entities requiring more than one parent map sheet. The map sheet size is 36 by 32 inches.

Michigan Indian Casinos.  Courtesy of Turtle Talk.

Michigan Tribal Service Areas.  Courtesy of the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Federal and State Indian Reservations Map : InfoPlease map, not as detailed, but includes links to American Indian place names, glosssary and American Indians by the Numbers compilations from the Census Bureau.)

Michigan Reservations (1997)

Map of Indian Reservations in Michigan.  Michigan Department of Management and Budget, 1996.

Another America : Native American Maps and the History of Our Land / Mark Warhus. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1997.  242pp.  Main Library E59.C25 W37 1997 : Opening a window for modern readers to see how the original inhabitants viewed the American continent more than three hundred years ago, this unique and valuable reference combines rare maps made by Native Americans with essays on their historical and cultural context.

Atlas of American Indian Affairs / by Francis Paul Prucha.  Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, c1990.  191pp.  Map Library (3 West) Short Atlas Case G1201.E1 P7 1990 : A thorough and technical reference source for libraries needing extensive historical and current data on Native Americans. Culture and tribal areas, U. S. census information, land cessions, and reservations are carefully placed on charts and maps, along with many other topics of interest (agencies, schools and hospitals, etc.).

Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History / edited by Helen Hornbeck Tanner ... [et al.] ; cartography by Miklos Pinther.  Norman : Published for the Newberry Library by the University of Oklahoma Press, c1987.  224pp.  Oversize Collection (Basement, Center), and Map Library Short Atlas Case E78.G7 A87 1987  Note : also available as e-book : The Indian history of the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, and particularly of the Ohio Valley, is so complex that it can be properly clarified only with the visual aid of maps. The Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History, in a sequence of thirty-three newly researched maps printed in as many as five colors, graphically displays the movement of Indian communities from 1640 to about 1871, when treaty making between Indian tribes and the United States government came to an end.

Atlas of the North American Indian / Carl Waldman.  New York, NY : Checkmark Bks., c2009.  3rd edition, 1 atlas (xiv, 450 p.)    Map  Library (3 West) Short Atlas Case  G1106.E1 W3 2009  :  a compact yet wide-ranging account of Native American history and life illustrated with over 100 maps. Waldman competently summarizes Indian prehistory, cultural patterns, contacts with Europeans, military events, and contemporary life; Braun's two-color maps successfully place all these data in geographical context. Useful appendixes include a historical chronology and lists of Native American place-names and of all tribes on the continent. A bibliography of over 200 recent items helps to overcome the inevitable limitations of a single-volume reference work.

Atlas of American Diversity / Larry Hajime Shinagawa, Michael Jang.  Walnut Creek, Calif. : AltaMira Press, c1998.  166pp.  Main Library and Map Library (3 West) Short Atlas Case E184.A1 S575 1998 : Covers African Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Hispanic Americans,  Native Americans, and Non-Hispanic Whites/European Americans.  Provides bibliographic references to other resources.

We the People : an Atlas of America's Ethnic Diversity / James Paul Allen, Eugene James TurnerNew York : Macmillan, c1988.  1 atlas (xii, 315 p.)  Map Library (3 West) Supersize Atlas Case G1201.E1 A4 1988 : Information on race, ethnicity, and populations in the 1980s.  Includes bibliography

The Historical Atlas of Native Americans / Ian Barnes.  Edison, N.J. : Chartwell Books, c2009.  400pp. Map Library (3 West) Short Atlas Case G1106.E1 B3 2009 : Explores the social, political, and geographical history of North America's native peoples.

Rebecca Onion and Claudio Saun, "Interactive Time-Lapse Map Shows How the U.S. Took More Than 1.5 Billion Acres From Native Americans", Slate : the Vault,  June 17, 2014.  This interactive map, produced by University of Georgia historian Claudio Saunt to accompany his new book West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, offers a time-lapse vision of the transfer of Indian land between 1776 and 1887. As blue “Indian homelands” disappear, small red areas appear, indicating the establishment of reservations.

For more possibilities, search the MSU Library online catalog, MelCat, or WorldCat with the following subjects:

Indians of North America--maps

Indians of North America--history--maps

You can request non-MSU Library materials through interlibrary loan. NOTE: Not all materials listed in MelCat or WorldCat can be borrowed through interlibrary loan, but many can.

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