Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Google erases First Nations

Thanks to fellow Indigenous geographers Zoltan Grossman and Renee Pualani Louis for bringing this to my attention. Seems Google - company motto 'Don't be evil' have erased labels to First Nations reservations in the US and Canada.

Noted in 2011 in this blog The Case of the Missing Indian Reservations by Steven Bridenstine, it seems Google has simply taken away the labels, leaving nameless tan spaces, in contrast to Bing maps where the boundaries and names remain.

As Renee says, "These are not alternatives to the political system that is supposed to recognize tribes sovereign right to name the features on their own federally recognized lands…actually I believe regardless if tribal lands are federally recognized or not they should start recording their own names based on their historical record (oral or written)."

Zoltan has contacted Google with this message:

"Where are the names of the Indian reservations? Tribes have a political status just below the federal government, above the states, and far above municipalities and villages that are shown on Google Maps. The rules and regulations are quite different within a reservation than outside, so someone is going to get in trouble not knowing what the tan area is. That's not counting the moral and ethical issues of erasing the existence of peoples and their historical presence on the landscape. This is going to be very, very bad P.R. for Google unless the names are restored. You need someone who is educated about political geography and cartography to be making decisions about place names that are this important."

Guess any corporate that claims the moral high ground can only go down...

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Simon Lambert

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