Red earth place by School of the Art Institute of Chicago

I study modern interpretations of indigenous cartography, such as counter mapping, which maps away from dominant power structures and colonial hierarchy. This means story and narrative should not be visually separated from their geographic counterparts.

Colonial cartography serves as a weapon of intent, the intent being to carve up and redistribute occupied land with little to no acknowledgment of the centuries-old relationship between that land and its inhabitants.

The Cherokee Nation, one of the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern United States, has held a working relationship with the earth for thousands of years. They taught themselves how to shape, decorate, mold and fire clay deposits, also known as Georgia red clay, from the Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding areas for utilitarian, ceremonial and decorative purposes. The term “Elaya diyi” means red-earth place in the Cherokee language, deriving from ela (earth) and wadi (brown-red).

Georgia surveyors’ notes document the unique cultural landscape of the territory they intended to steal. This countermap uses the same archival material to critically examine Georgia’s colonial past.