Digital Project Update: Mapping American Indian Federal Boarding Schools

As a refresher, I am creating an interactive map using ArcGIS StoryMaps that tracks the American Indian boarding schools implemented by the Bureau of Indian Affairs beginning in the 1870s. I am finalizing the points for each residential school with the dates it was in operation. In doing background research for this, some schools have contested dates of operation, which has made it slightly more difficult to gather this information. I’ve also added a button underneath the map linked to a Google form in case viewers want to reach out and add information or get into contact with me. Within the actual map, I am still figuring out the best way to optimize the plotted points with what will be easiest for the user to navigate.

Here is the link to the StoryMaps published page, Mapping American Indian Boarding Schools.

As I continue to work on this, I want to gather different resources for those viewing the map. For each point, there will be the years the school was in operation (as I stated), but will also link to relevant pages, like a museum page for the school or any information from the National Archives, for example. Some boarding schools have tons of resources available about them, but some other ones are barely acknowledged. This will prove difficult in finding relevant resources. However, that is why I am very adamant about including contact information. If someone is viewing the map and sees missing information, I think it’s important for them to offer this if they’re so inclined to get in contact with me in the future. Even after this class, this map is something I want to make sure is maintained.

I want this to be a resource that can actually be used and does not get lost in the depths of the internet. In order to publicize it, I am definitely going to reach out to the museum I worked at, the Heard Museum, as Professor Owens suggested in the comments of my previous blog post. I also will reach out to various places that work with the history and legacy of these schools, like the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.

My StoryMap right now is definitely a draft. To make it more digestible before the project is formally due, I am going to add more information to each point, and double check that I didn’t miss any federal boarding schools. Then I will go back in and insert links to the resources so when the viewer clicks on a point, all the relevant links show up with titles of what they are. I also want to include images if I can to make it more pleasing to the eye. From the project proposal until now, my goals remain the same. I want to streamline this information to make it easier for the public and historians to learn more about boarding schools making digital resources compiled and easier to find.

2 Replies to “Digital Project Update: Mapping American Indian Federal Boarding Schools”

  1. Ellie, I think that this map you are working on brings me a lot of knowledge of just how widespread the Native American boarding school movement was in the US. I didn’t realize that even Alaska had one, let alone two of them. It is also interesting to see some schools still open today and I wonder how these schools are facing their legacies. I look forward to learning more information from your map when you are finished!

  2. This is coming along really well! You’ve assembled together an impressive number of data points to plot, and I think it’s great that you have the years of operation for all of these too.

    As you go forward, it would be great to build in a little more of the story context in alongside the map too. I think it still makes sense to make this primarily about the map itself, but it would be great to get a little more narrative around the map included too.

    Great to hear that you have plans on how to do some outreach around this. I think this could be a great resource for the orgs you’ve mentioned and identified.

    Once you get a bit more of the textual info and images added in on this I think it’s going to be a really useful resource to help surface and demonstrate the breadth and depth of the historical impact of these schools.

    Great work!

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