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Introduction

I've done GIS mapping and demographic research here in Humboldt County and elsewhere, continued to develop GIS products like our free Toxic Release Maps and Learn2Map GIS Tutorial and done a bit of woodworking as well. My latest project is ToxicRisk.com - interactive maps of toxic facilities and schools in the U.S. Recently, Ernie Albers and I worked together to create the Yurok Plank House exhibit at the Clarke Museum in Eureka, California. Check YurokPlankHouse.com for more information about and photos of the project.

Much of the focus of my recent work has been on mapping pollution sources. To continue this work in Humboldt County I have the bare beginnings of what will be an interactive GIS web map of Humboldt County that visitors can use to locate polluting facilities and find out more about them. Check Redwood Coast Toxic Discoveries for more about this.

In 2007, I began working with Willard Carlson and others on Blue Creek - Ah Pah Traditional Yurok Village on the Klamath river.

I've created a digital map with multiple layers that shows both current landuses and ownership and the aboriginal Yurok territory. The map above is a first cut at doing just that.

You can download this map in high-quality Acrobat PDF format (397K). Note that it works best to right-click your mouse and choose "save file as" and pick a place to save it on your hard disk. Acrobat Reader is needed to view the downloaded map. If you don't have it, you can get it here. You can use the map in any manner that you like as long as you do not change the map or remove the copyright and source information. Please also keep in mind that there are limits to the accuracy of the maps. Read below for more on this.

Here are two more images from the map project. They are also available for download in Acrobat PDF format. Click on either map for a larger image and the PDF download link. Would you like to learn how to make maps like this yourself? Check below for free map layers and a GIS tutorial that includes access to a free GIS map viewer.

My wish list for the above map project is:

  • Update and verify the current layers.
  • Add more aboriginal boundaries.
  • Fine tune the aboriginal boundaries with the help and guidance of local native people.
  • Focus on the water quality of the Klamath and Eel Rivers and the health of their watersheds, looking at deforestation, sedimentation, pollution, flows, development, water temperature, river shading, fish kills, fishery health and the like.
  • Environmental justice mapping of potential toxic sources and demographics.
  • Other features that you in the community suggest or would like to add yourself. Please send me your wish list.

Download Map Layers, Program & Tutorial

You can download these layers and a free GIS program and explore the digital map yourself. I have a free GIS tutorial that you can download by clicking here.

These GIS map layers are in the industry standard shapefile format. Most any GIS program can use this format and they also work with the free GIS program, Arcexplorer. Arcexplorer is linked from within the free GIS tutorial (above) or you can download it directly at www.esri.com. Here are the map layers:

Note: files below last updated 04/22/04

  • All the layers bundled (zipped) with an Arcexplorer (aep) project. This file "northcoast.exe" is a self extracting file. Once you have downloaded it, double-click it and it will unzip to a directory on your "C" hard disk named "north-coast-gis." Once you have done this, open Arcexplorer, choose "open project" and locate the file named "northcoast.AEP." See our free GIS tutorial for more information on obtaining Arcexplorer and using it with this project. Click here to download the bundle. Note: this is a large 4.0MB file.

  • If you are already an experienced GIS user, you can download the individual shapefiles below:

Map Use and Accuracy

You can use the maps in any manner that you like as long as you do not change the map or remove the copyright and source information. Please also keep in mind that there are limits to the accuracy of the maps. Read below for more on this. Note that all of these map layers, with the exception of the Yurok aboriginal layer, were extracted from various U.S. government and other data sets. This data may or may not be accurate or current.

One part of this project is to verify the accuracy of each of these layers. The Yurok aboriginal layer was first scanned from a map in Yurok Geography by T.T. Waterman and then digitized with Maptitude GIS. This layer should be confirmed and/or adjusted with the direction of Yurok and neigboring tribal people.

For these reasons the maps shown on this page and the downloadable GIS layers should be considered a "first cut" -- a draft -- of the current and historical geography of the region. If you have information and/or would like to be part of working on this or any other map layer, please contact me using the form below.

Marlon Sherman, Professor of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University, prepared the following discussion about maps and boundaries of aboriginal territory.

"Boundary lines on maps are artificial constructs. Sharply delineated lines, drawn arbitrarily, generally have little meaning in aboriginal or indigenous terms. As a cultural or geographic matter, many, if not most indigenous societies were formed and maintained within watershed boundaries. As a political matter, many modern indigenous societies view boundaries as tools of oppressive colonial governments that facilitate repressive or genocidal policies. Indigenous Peoples throughout the earth generally coalesced as societies long before the formation of modern nation-states, and struggle with cross-boundary issues that result from differing immigration policies of the various nations.

The lines on the above map are used strictly for informational purposes, and cannot and should not be used to prove right to ownership of the parcels of land so delineated.

For example, the boundaries noted on the map of aboriginal Yurok territory are all either arbitrarily drawn by anthropologists/ethnologists, or are the results of government-approved surveys that have subsequently been entered into official county land records.

The anthropological lines only roughly approximate areas that Yurok-speaking peoples once either inhabited or visited and used on a regular basis. They are the result of first-person interviews with Yurok individuals in the early Twentieth Century as well as often unreliable information gleaned from non-Indian interlopers or surrounding tribal groups.

The history of government-recorded property lines delineating both private and government property in the West are generally the result of fraud and coercion, not only on the part of the miners, loggers and other settlers, but due to the third-party surveying contractors, some of whom never even walked the land they mapped. Although these property lines have become pretty much settled as of the 21st Century, they are still the source of much bitterness among Native Peoples, who lost the homes and use rights they had enjoyed for untold centuries.

Finally, although the United States government has since 1989 recognized a separate Yurok Reservation, with boundary lines extending from approximately the mouth of the Klamath River to its confluence with the Trinity River, and one mile on either side of the Klamath River, some Yurok people still practice traditional Yurok land use beliefs and practices in regard to land ownership and property boundaries, rather than acknowledge either Yurok or United States law.

This map, then, shows the approximate areas Yurok peoples lived in or utilized on a regular basis before the coming of Europeans or Americans, and shows areas Yuroks are forbidden from living or utilizing today, due to federal and state laws, as well as corporate and private control of lands."

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MapCruzin.com is an independent firm specializing in the publication of educational and research resources. We created the first U.S. based interactive toxic chemical facility maps on the internet in 1996 and we have been online ever since. Learn more about us and view some of our projects and services.

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