Maps as a weapon to resist extractive industries on Indigenous territories

Author Topic: Maps as a weapon to resist extractive industries on Indigenous territories  (Read 1912 times)

Offline Shabnam Sakia

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There is a long history of the use of maps and cartographic techniques by countries and governments to claim ownership over Indigenous territories. But since the 1990s, Indigenous communities have been deploying mapping tactics as a mode of Indigenous resistance, resurgence and education. These tactics use historical memory and ancestral knowledge to assert territorial rights and community visioning.

Indigenous communities have either led or collaborated with multiple players to launch a broad array of mapping projects as a way of reclaiming ownership on the multiple aspects of their territories. These projects range from low-tech community mapping approaches to the use of the latest online web mapping technologies.

Some academics have criticized these cartographic practices because of the continued subordination of Indigenous spatial world-views to western technologies and histories. It is time to revisit these dominant mapping representations and conventional processes so that we can present different conceptions of the world. Representing these different conceptions calls for supporting the development of Indigenous cartographic languages.

The MappingBack platform helps to mobilize a broad range of alternative forms of spatial expression to serve the communities for public education and advocacy in defense of their territories.
 uMap, a free open source mapping application and include the names of Indigenous communities involved in fighting against extractive industries as well as a list of individuals indicating the expertise they are willing to contribute to the mapping project (Eg. GIS, legal, social or financial support).

Because some of the Indigenous communities involved in fighting against extractive industries have been exposed to high levels of threats and violence and have paid an expensive human cost, some of these resources will only be shared on a case by case scenario for privacy and security reasons.

MappingBack can support Indigenous perspectives on territories and resources through spatial representations. We hope it will serve Indigenous communities fighting against extractive industries. These fights are often at the forefront of broad and urgent environmental threats.
Sakia Shabnam Kader
Senior Lecturer (Physics)
Department of General Educational Development