Jump to content

 
Photo

Map Petpeeves to Learn From

* * * * - 1 votes

  • Please log in to reply
6 replies to this topic

#1
kd.fischer

kd.fischer

    Newbie

  • Validated Member
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
  • No Country Selected

Hello all.
I've recently transferred from a general Geography degree to a technical school and GIS focused program. I love the switch for being more specialized, but feel I'm losing out on a broader education, particularly that which is geographically related. Things I would learn from speaking to people about maps, rather than what I'd get from a text book.
My classic example is how a Mercator projection skews Greenland and the unknowing bias it gives viewers. Other examples include the difficulty in mapping native land due to non-specific/general boundaries (compared to e.g. westerner-fenced land boundaries), or when a country goes through historical changes (e.g. cities being renamed post communist reign) keeping this in mind if say a map were to be used in a school attended by children of refugees and the implications of your choice for the city labels (as in, potentially giving children a bias, or offending parents).

These kinds of things I find invaluable to providing us cartographers insight to the greater world we try to represent. I am posting this in hopes to learn more from we as a community. Please share some of your geographic pet peeves or insights into these kinds of things you've learned. Specifics are appreciated. :)

#2
SaultDon

SaultDon

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 153 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:BC
  • Interests:Environmental/Wildlife GIS, Aboriginal Land Use and Occupancy
  • Canada

Other examples include the difficulty in mapping native land due to non-specific/general boundaries (compared to e.g. westerner-fenced land boundaries)


This is a great discussion!

I would like to begin with talking about the issues I face when mapping in a First Nations context vs non-native.

One thing maps do is communicate ideas or present a perspective of how that individual sees the world (the idea of transferring what you see, 3D, to a piece of paper, 2D).

In our world (first nations, but I don't speak for all!) there is no sense of ownership or personal possessions - everything is a gift and should be used accordingly. We cannot own things we never created...

This is the 180 I face when working outside of this environment because all the mapping revolves around setting explicit boundaries and ownership of things (ie, privatization of land).

Lots of First Nations feel a connection to the land and must change with it. That's why there are no definitive boundaries, everything should be shared and a mutual understanding should be obtained. These boundaries are ever changing and cannot be considered a static entity.

For example, if animals become scarce in a region we normally use, we must go other places. But we must enter into mutual agreements with the people who are currently there (ie, sharing our hunt/catch with the local "headman/women" and giving them first choice).

There are protocols in place to facilitate these agreements and we must work within their understanding, as much as we can, of how these agreements are made.

But on the flip side, when we leave these hunting/harvesting areas, that is part of our land use planning that would encourage the area to regenerate back to a productive state. Non First Nations often see this as abandonment and "no one is there".

Everything is connected and when the neighbouring ecosystems are affected, the dominos will topple or change in some significant manner.

We consider ourselves stewards and watchers over the areas we preside, whereas other people tend to consider themselves adversaries to their environment and must conquer it in some fashion or another.

#3
kd.fischer

kd.fischer

    Newbie

  • Validated Member
  • Pip
  • 5 posts
  • No Country Selected

Thanks for the response!
A classmate of mine was running into this exact problem while trying to map traditional hunting grounds in our area; that everything was so give and take and un-definite that it was very hard to map in a aerial "from above" with obvious boundaries fashion. She ended up settling on a 3-d fly-through model, but even this gave the perspective that boundaries were definite and static through time (not showing even seasonal changes). Admittedly this was a short single semester project, but how would you suggest conveying these degree of information visually (without a written disclaimer)? Especially to a western audience who is used to the standard view-from-above-strictly-defined view point?

As First Nations that means your decent is North American right? If so (or not) do you have any input on how these views might differ between regions or groups across the continent? Or even any insight on how this might vary with other countries indigenous? I ask this because I'd heard natives of the Amazon (or other such vast tropical rain forests) have other variations and mind-mapping due to the nature of the extensive forest they live in. I wonder if something similar might exist with the groups along the western Rockies interior for example...

(PS I really did enjoy your post! Thank you again for all the information! I think that's incredibly interesting re: going to other areas when animals become scarce, and working with other groups to maintain peace. I love the idea of allowing natural areas to organically regenerate; I wish we hadn't lost that mentality as a society.)

Other examples include the difficulty in mapping native land due to non-specific/general boundaries (compared to e.g. westerner-fenced land boundaries)


This is a great discussion!

I would like to begin with talking about the issues I face when mapping in a First Nations context vs non-native.

One thing maps do is communicate ideas or present a perspective of how that individual sees the world (the idea of transferring what you see, 3D, to a piece of paper, 2D).

In our world (first nations, but I don't speak for all!) there is no sense of ownership or personal possessions - everything is a gift and should be used accordingly. We cannot own things we never created...

This is the 180 I face when working outside of this environment because all the mapping revolves around setting explicit boundaries and ownership of things (ie, privatization of land).

Lots of First Nations feel a connection to the land and must change with it. That's why there are no definitive boundaries, everything should be shared and a mutual understanding should be obtained. These boundaries are ever changing and cannot be considered a static entity.

For example, if animals become scarce in a region we normally use, we must go other places. But we must enter into mutual agreements with the people who are currently there (ie, sharing our hunt/catch with the local "headman/women" and giving them first choice).

There are protocols in place to facilitate these agreements and we must work within their understanding, as much as we can, of how these agreements are made.

But on the flip side, when we leave these hunting/harvesting areas, that is part of our land use planning that would encourage the area to regenerate back to a productive state. Non First Nations often see this as abandonment and "no one is there".

Everything is connected and when the neighbouring ecosystems are affected, the dominos will topple or change in some significant manner.

We consider ourselves stewards and watchers over the areas we preside, whereas other people tend to consider themselves adversaries to their environment and must conquer it in some fashion or another.



#4
P Riggs

P Riggs

    Key Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 54 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Interests:Playing music; studying French language, culture, and history; listening to old time radio; learning and playing accordion; hiking, though I don't get to do much now with having young children, will change in the future; fly-fishing, same as hiking; reading
  • United States

Other examples include the difficulty in mapping native land due to non-specific/general boundaries (compared to e.g. westerner-fenced land boundaries),


It's not only human geography that runs into this problem. Recently I was helping with an analysis of deer movements in relation to farms. The researcher was relying on deer home ranges where the deer spent the majority of time. Needless to say, there are no clear boundaries, just areas of most use moving to areas of least use.

In this case, switching to rasters with gradients of use was the answer. I think in cartography it's easy to get stuck into the vector format mentality and remember there is a whole world of GIS raster analyses that turn clear boundaries on its head.

(Yes, my pet peeve is the emphasis on vector data formats. What attracted me to GIS was the whole rich world of raster modeling.)
Philip Riggs
Decorative-Maps.com

#5
SaultDon

SaultDon

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 153 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:BC
  • Interests:Environmental/Wildlife GIS, Aboriginal Land Use and Occupancy
  • Canada

Thanks for the response!
A classmate of mine was running into this exact problem while trying to map traditional hunting grounds in our area; that everything was so give and take and un-definite that it was very hard to map in a aerial "from above" with obvious boundaries fashion. She ended up settling on a 3-d fly-through model, but even this gave the perspective that boundaries were definite and static through time (not showing even seasonal changes). Admittedly this was a short single semester project, but how would you suggest conveying these degree of information visually (without a written disclaimer)? Especially to a western audience who is used to the standard view-from-above-strictly-defined view point?


It's very difficult to present that information without some sort of disclaimer to an audience with such a different worldly view than our own.

In that specific project, it would of been extremely important to have some understanding of why the hunting regions were being recorded and let everyone in the audience know this. I don't think you can present the information without understanding the context and history. It needs dialog to accompany it.

I'll discuss two possible reasons why below, though there may be others, these are the two most common reasons for collecting such sensitive information.

It's difficult to summarize this if you don't know the history as to why that mapping would be happening in the first place. This is going to be long though I will try to keep it short...

Reason 1:
they have been referred to as TUS, TEK, etc...).It is only when the mapping is a part of the evidence gathering process that it can be presented statically because the goal is often to define a border that will encapsulate the collected information. _linenums:0'>That kind of mapping is often highly politicized. It's formal workflow was solidified during the land claims of the 1970's that occurred in Canada's high arctic.  There is lots of history here that I don't want to flood the thread with! In a nutshell, First Nations of that era and today are in a unique position where they now need to provide "evidence of occupation" in order to finalize the land claims or modern Treaties that they are embarking on as they try to define their extents. This evidence is collected in something that can be referred to as a Land Use and Occupancy Study (they have been referred to as TUS, TEK, etc...).It is only when the mapping is a part of the evidence gathering process that it can be presented statically because the goal is often to define a border that will encapsulate the collected information.
Reason 2:
Now on the other hand, presenting that data in the wrong context (letting it become site-specific) can have detrimental effects on a First Nation if they have a historical Treaty already in place like one of the numbered Treaties (1-11) or pre-confederation Treaties. This is because their Treaty boundary is already defined along with its interpretation and was probably consecrated via traditional manners (trading, smoking of the peace pipe, etc...), not modern ones (contract signing, etc...). The Treaty affirms predetermined rights among other things.You do not want to present this data in a site-specific manner the way you could in Reason 1.The hunting grounds, medicinal harvesting areas, etc, is information that is taught formally to people in their own Nations (grandparents to grandkids) or those of their choosing. The lessons they are passing on are considered sacred.When you present the data in a site-specific manner outsiders can easily misinterpret the data and think that those are specific concerns and the Treaty as a whole becomes irrelevant. These First Nations also don't need to provide site-specific data to provide evidence of occupation. The Treaty is the evidence and it exists already.Instead, it is appropriate to use the data as an education tool. The observers need to understand the why. They need to be taught the reason that person hunted there. What was it unique about the area and how did they decide to go there? They need to incorporate these teachings and lessons into their own planning/negotiations process so that the pre-existing Treaty can be respected.If they look at the data from a narrow scope, the true intent of the Treaty is lost. _linenums:0'><strong class='bbc'>Now on the other hand</strong>, presenting that data in the wrong context (letting it become site-specific) can have detrimental effects on a First Nation if they have a historical Treaty already in place like one of the numbered Treaties (1-11) or pre-confederation Treaties. This is because their Treaty boundary is already defined along with its interpretation and was probably consecrated via traditional manners (trading, smoking of the peace pipe, etc...), not modern ones (contract signing, etc...). The Treaty affirms predetermined rights among other things.You do not want to present this data in a site-specific manner the way you could in Reason 1.The hunting grounds, medicinal harvesting areas, etc, is information that is taught formally to people in their own Nations (grandparents to grandkids) or those of their choosing. The lessons they are passing on are considered sacred.When you present the data in a site-specific manner outsiders can easily misinterpret the data and think that those are specific concerns and the Treaty as a whole becomes irrelevant. These First Nations also don't need to provide site-specific data to provide evidence of occupation. The Treaty is the evidence and it exists already.Instead, it is appropriate to use the data as an education tool. The observers need to understand the why. They need to be taught the reason that person hunted there. What was it unique about the area and how did they decide to go there? They need to incorporate these teachings and lessons into their own planning/negotiations process so that the pre-existing Treaty can be respected.If they look at the data from a narrow scope, the true intent of the Treaty is lost.
Example:
I can provide an example of when site-specific data is detrimental to a pre-existing Treaty if it's hard to understand:Say a proponent (resource extraction company) wants to develop a pipeline in the territory where a historical Treaty already exists. If the First Nation is being consulted to identify potential Treaty right infringements and presents site-specific data, they are essentially re-defining the extent of the Treaty. This is called misinterpretation.The proponent will simply take the data, and circle the information provided and identify those as the explicit concerns. In effect, they draw a new boundary for the Treaty and say, "These are your areas of concern that we are willing to address." When really, it was intended to teach the proponent how the First Nation's land use works so that they could plan their project and easily identify any concerns.Those life lessons are almost impossible to capture in a map, not sure if it's possible... I cannot stress how much the audience must understand where the data comes from and what it's for. The data is often accompanied with a policy to define it's intended use.

As First Nations that means your decent is North American right? If so (or not) do you have any input on how these views might differ between regions or groups across the continent? Or even any insight on how this might vary with other countries indigenous? I ask this because I'd heard natives of the Amazon (or other such vast tropical rain forests) have other variations and mind-mapping due to the nature of the extensive forest they live in. I wonder if something similar might exist with the groups along the western Rockies interior for example...


Yes, we're in Canada. But that is the only context I have experience with this kind of mapping, but I believe it has set precedence and I've heard of it used in places like Australia and South America for peaceful conflict resolution.

But I know for a fact that the views do differ greatly from Nation to Nation and it's always said that we must learn these differences of each other to better live together. That's what a lot of elders say. The Treaties are there to help people respect each other.

#6
GeoEvan

GeoEvan

    Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPip
  • 35 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • Interests:Geography, linguistics, wildlife
  • Taiwan

In college I took a course called "Intercultural Communications", in which the professor who was American Indian / Native American (U.S. terms equivalent to "First Nations"). He was resentful of the tendency of Americans of European descent to quote American Indians regarding the latter's lack of belief in ownership of land. He seemed to see it as a subversion used to implicitly justify denying land rights to American Indians. He once said something like, "What is this BS about 'no one can own the land'? Of course we can - it's ours!"

Of course these ideas vary widely, but that was his take on the issue. As an American of European descent, I'm actually not under the impression that the quotations are being used for that purpose. It seems to me that when people quote them, it's usually by people who feel collective guilt for the historical mistreatment of American Indians, for the intended purpose of expressing some kind of wistful solidarity with the Indians. However, in my opinion there's still a problem here, which is that if you see a problem in the world, guilt and good intentions aren't enough. You should actually look into working towards righting the wrongs, which almost no one does in this case.
Writer and cartographer for Political Geography Now.

#7
nlife

nlife

    Newbie

  • Validated Member
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Canada

In our world (first nations, but I don't speak for all!) there is no sense of ownership or personal possessions - everything is a gift and should be used accordingly. We cannot own things we never created...


Please don't take this as an attack on your knowledge, your experience, or your cultural teachings. And I will say that I recognize your disclaimer in italics. I'm genuinely curious to know which First Nation you are a member of. I am Tsimshian from Kitkatla.

I guess what piques my interest the most is the following quote:

For example, if animals become scarce in a region we normally use, we must go other places. But we must enter into mutual agreements with the people who are currently there (ie, sharing our hunt/catch with the local "headman/women" and giving them first choice).


The bold portion of the quote indicates to me that ownership of territories or lands exists within the culture. I say this because if there wasn't a notion of territorial ownership you wouldn't have to enter into an agreement with others in the area to hunt animals. Am I way off base here?

Neil




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

-->