Everybody knows that Europeans took a lot of land from Native Americans, but this animated GIF by Tumblr user sunisup gives a great sense of just how fast the people living in North America were pushed west after Christopher Columbus "discovered" the continent.
She turned an old graphic by Louisiana State professor Sam B. Hillard into a mini-movie that viscerally demonstrates the gradual chopping away of Native American land through cessions, or a surrender of territory to another entity. The green represents Native American land, and any part that turns white was ceded. She writes: "Made because I was having trouble visualizing the sheer scale of the land loss, and reading numbers like 'blah blah million acres' wasn’t really doing it for me." Numbers wise, the amount of green land shown after 1895 is about 2.3 percent of the original size.
Hillard got his information from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of American Ethnology. The history of Native Americans is complicated, so the graphic only documents land that was ceded. Any land that was ceded but then later turned into a reservation may shop up again later in the time lapse. Whatever the in-between negotiations, it's clear the land disappeared quickly. The difference between 1784 and present day Indian reservations is striking.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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