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Indigenous Knowledge Commons

Native Trails of Knowing

Native Trails of Knowing incorporates Google Earth into course materials for exposition of local knowledge, historical experience and achievement.


Native Trails of Knowing development was funded by the W. M. Keck Foundation.

Native Trails of Knowing is a website for following the movement of people and knowledge across the land. It uses the Google Maps API as a foundation for mapping data, with an interface that allows the creation of trails and the annotation of those trails with images and text. It was designed by Inventive Labs Web Designers for the Native Eyes Program at the Institute of American Indian Knowledge. In the course How Indians Made America, the software is used to create trails through Indian Country with ‘way stations’ for visual and textual explication of Native American historical and cultural achievements.


Virginia epitomizes her walk to work as a way of structuring an urban place.

In the course Indigenous Perspectives on Place, it is used (as in the template screen capture above) to map the structure and function of particular places (cities, reservations, towns, colleges, etc.) together with how and why people move through these cultural constructions. In American Indian Mapping, maps can be created of particular Indigenous locations with markers indicating places of social, economic, spiritual and cultural significance to Native Peoples. In the course Story Weaving, maps generated in NTK can be woven into the fabric of a particular story weave.