Photo: Gaia GPS

New GPS Overlay Maps Native Lands When Recreating Outdoors

News National Parks
by Tim Wenger Oct 9, 2020

The importance of acknowledging and respecting Indigenous lands is of the utmost importance, particularly when recreating outdoors. A Canadian non-profit, Native Lands Digital, has made it easier than ever to know if and when you’re on Native land, and who originally settled it. The organization created a digital overlay map of the Indigenous settlers of vast amounts of land across North and South America, Europe, and Australia, with approximate borders and notations of the original settling peoples. The map includes notations for nearly all of North America.

To help outdoor recreationists pay tribute to Indigenous nations, GPS mapping service Gaia GPS now allows premium users of its service to install an overlay of the Native Lands map. When traveling in the outdoors, users can now observe whose land they are on by searching for and installing the new Native Land Territories Map into their Gaia GPS app on their computer or smartphone.

Within the app, users can find information on the land’s original inhabitants including cultural notes, language, and how to contact the Indigenous nation. The app also allows users to make an acknowledgment to the nation in their tracked GPS data to show appreciation and support of the area’s past and current residents.

“The Native Land Territories map provides a starting point for deepening understanding of those Indigenous nations’ people, history, and culture,” said Laura Friedland of Gaia GPS’s marketing team in an announcement on the company’s website. “When you’re out on a hike, tap a location on the map to see the nation’s name. Tap the information button for a link to see more about that nation.”

If you use the map overlay within the app, you can export your photos and data onto other services including Google Earth and for posting on social media networks — meaning there’s officially no excuse not to acknowledge whose land you’re on in your future posts. Native Lands Digital also put together a handbook with information and practice exercises to help you get the most out of the service.

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