by LIZZIE DEAL
In honor of Indigenous People’s Month, UNITY is placing the finishing touches on a map of the Indigenous People of Iowa. The project, which was spearheaded by Peyton Maulsby, an Equity and Inclusion Student Senator and UNITY Co-President, should be on display in Olmsted by Thanksgiving.
Maulsby both researched and designed the map, which was a part of UNITY’s programming in celebration of Indigenous People. UNITY, a student-governing body for multicultural organizations, creates programming to represent the diverse backgrounds that students come from, November often being one of the busiest months.
“In previous years, our big programming month has been Indigenous People’s Month, and so over the summer, we were brainstorming a lot of ways where we could add things,” Maulsby said. “I know there are some online resources that have Indigenous People’s Maps, so I thought it would be really nice to have it visually posted in the student center.”
The map lays out the where the territories of different Iowa Indigenous tribes were and is centered around a UNITY logo. “Right now, there are lots of overlapping tribe areas,” Maulsby explained. “I went off of this website that sort of gathers information from all sorts of self-reporting tribes and everything like that, so it’s a lot of colors and a lot of overlap.”
To not exclude students who aren’t from Iowa, Maulsby also included a QR code on the map. When scanned, students will be brought to a website where they can input their home address and learn more about that land.
The goal of this project, Maulsby says, is to spread awareness to the student body about Indigenous People not just during the month of November, but to serve as a reminder year round.
“Settler colonialism is on-going, especially in that it is an on-going forgetting of the realities of genocide that has occurred through land acquisition, cultural assimilation, and overt attempts at extermination,” Professor Renee Cramer said. “Crucially, these are realities that continue to this day – in the form of contemporary law and politics, cultural representations and stereotypes, and often poor quality of life among indigenous people related to addiction, food insecurity, and discrimination. It is especially important that we engage in knowing about the native peoples from and on the land we inhabit — as both historic tribes, and as contemporary peoples — because to do so acknowledges their continued survival and thriving community, and the ways that non-Indians continue to benefit from the practices of colonization.”
While a specific location in Olmsted has yet to be selected for the map, Maulsby hopes it will be on the first floor and that the central location will allow it to be viewed by a large number of students.
“Even if a lot of people are passing through Olmsted quickly, it’ll be nice to have it sort of in the heart of campus,” Maulsby said. “I’m hoping it will remind people constantly that there are indigenous people and we are sort of living on their land even though it’s not just the Heritage Month.”