For too long Native American communities have not only been excluded from conversations about gathering and use of data, but also from placement on the world map. On June 22, 2023, Greenlink Analytics’ new digital mapping tool will make it easier to locate and understand Native territories in the U.S.
The tool places 326 reservations and approximately 574 federally recognized sovereign American Indian and Alaska Native tribes into the Greenlink Equity Map (GEM), which illustrates the intersections between health, housing and environmental inequities. The aim is to strengthen Native Communities' voices as a part of a deeper conversation around providing resources and strengthening collaboration on climate action.
“Advancing equitable environmental solutions needs to include Mother Earth’s original stewards.” says Greenlink’s Director of Community Initiatives Angelica Chavez Duckworth.
To develop the Native Nations map, Greenlink used the public data set known as Native Land Digital, which provides people the ability to look at historical territories, and recent census data that includes most federally and state recognized tribes. The combination appears in the map tool as a visual and interactive way to view historical and present day native lands at the state and federal level.
Data sovereignty refers to ethical and legal guidelines for ensuring that individuals, or groups, maintain control and governance of their own information. This includes collection, storage and interpretation of that data. As a data informed, community driven organization, we believe it is critical that we learn from and collaborate with Native peoples to share data and find solutions to environment and equity issues together.
What became clear while researching and developing the tool is that large gaps currently exist in census tract data (read our blog on the topic here), making it even more important to share the data and begin engaging with Native Nations to move forward.
Our organization recognizes we have a lot to learn about how to collaborate with communities in a way that heals past and current harms. To do this we are launching a listening tour in the second half of this year where we will interview a diversity of Native communities, organizational leaders, and organizations to deepen our understanding of their needs and desires.
The design and information within our mapping tools, such as GEM, are contingent upon the feedback we receive, ensuring the development remains relevant to the experiences of our communities and provide them with the data they need to back their initiatives, especially in the context of an equitable clean energy transition.
This Native Lands indicator is that first step as a tool for social change and can encourage deep, honest conversations. If you’re interested in learning more about the mapping tool or receiving a demo click here. If you're already a GEM member, check out the indicator by signing in as usual. We hope you will join us on this journey.