April 9, 2014

Native American Trails

Putting tribal lands on the map
         Aquinnah, home of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, will be featured on the trail map. (Image courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism)

Nipmuck. Wampanoag. Nauset. Mashpee. These tribal names are ingrained deeply in the history and landscape of the Commonwealth. However, many non-indigenous New Englanders may have difficulty locating tribal lands.

The Certificate Program in Native American Indian Studies at UMass Amherst is now quite literally putting those names on the map. Through a $25,000 grant from the University of Massachusetts Creative Economy Initiatives Fund, the CPNAIS has launched the Native American Trail Project, an interactive map that represents the locations of Native communities and resources throughout Massachusetts, from Aquinnah to the Aptucxet Trading Post Museum.

"This map is unique because it invites Native communities to present their histories, heritage, and culture in their own words," says Professor Jean Forward, director of CPNAIS. "They can participate as little or as much as they like."

The map will be a valuable resource for all citizens who want to learn more about the Commonwealth's Native heritage, present-day life, and future, as well as a travel map to visit sites and communities.

The Certificate Program in Native American Indian Studies was founded by Professor Ron Welburn, Professor Robert Paynter and Joyce Vincent in 1996 to call attention to the role that indigenous people have in the Commonwealth, and allow them to present their stories in their own voices. The core class for the program, "Contemporary Issues of North American Indians: A Focus on the Northeast," is the only one of its kind in New England.

The map project will be unveiled at the CPNAIS's and Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center’s Spring Symposium, "Indigenous Voices," Friday, April 18 in the Marriott Room in the Campus Center. The event will be attended by the Massachusetts commissioners of Indian Affairs, and tribal leaders engaged in the project. The Native Tribal Scholars Program and the Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center will also make presentations. The symposium precedes the UMass Native American Alumni Night and the Annual UMASS Powwow on Saturday April 19 in the Curry Hicks Cage.