Native American Geographies Exhibit at the Earth Sciences and Map Library

Published: April 27, 2017

Discover a mixed media art work by M Yazzie

photo credit © Glenn Green Galleries

The Jerry Crail Johnson Earth Sciences & Map Library at the University of Colorado Boulder will host a new exhibition highlighting art and maps that addresses the history of Indigenous peoples’ lands in the United States. It will be on display May 1 through July 7, 2017.

The exhibit centers around Heart Mapping, a series of mixed media works on paper by Melanie Yazzie, CU Professor of Art and Art History and head of printmaking. Yazzie’s work evokes the American landscape as seen from above, in order to honor the vast breadth of Native homelands lost to Euro-American settlement. She notes, “I hope to inspire others to know that we were here before and are still present on this land we call the United States.”

In addition, the exhibit focuses on the difficulty of accurately mapping lands that were coercively transferred over time, and whose boundaries are still disputed. Maps of Indigenous peoples’ distribution throughout the history of North America, detailed turn-of-the-century reservation maps, educational maps by Native American publishers, and tourist maps, offer a thought-provoking informational complement to Yazzie’s artwork.

Old map of the American IndiansGuest essayist Sarah Krakoff, Raphael J. Moses Professor of Law at University of Colorado Law School, offers historical context to government-published maps in the exhibit, as well as commentary on the current state of Indian Land law.

A gallery talk and reception for Yazzie will take place May 19 at 3 p.m. in the Earth Sciences and Map Library. Visiting artist Faith McManus, art teacher at Northtec Education Institute in Northland, New Zealand, will be joining Yazzie in discussing “Heart Mapping: Indigenous Perspectives on Land.”  

This exhibition is held in conjunction with Rocky Mountain Map Society’s Map Month 2017, themed “The Art in Maps.”