[ca. 1721]: A Map Describing the Situation of the several Nations of Indians between South Carolina and the Massisipi River; was Copyed from a Draught Drawn & Painted upon a Deer Skin by an Indian Cacique: and Presented to Francis Nicholson Esqr. Governor of Carolina. [The assigned date follows Waselkov. Cumming places this map ca. 1724.] [Reproduced in Hulbert (1907-16), ser. III, pl. 7-8.] [Public Record Office (UK), CO 700 / North American Colonies General 6/1.] [Formerly Colonial Office Library (London), North America 6.]
A Map describing the situation of the several Nations of Indians between South Carolina and the Massisipi River; was copyed from a draught drawn and painted upon a deerskin by an Indian Cacique, and presented to Francis Nicholson, Esq., Governor of Carolina. MS. (National Archives)
This map (commonly referred to as the Catawba Map) reproduces a one presented to the governor of South Carolina about 1721 by representatives from the native inhabitants, most likely members of the Nasaws. The circles on the map represent Native American societies living northwest of Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston and Virginia (the English societies in the area) are rectangles. The use of circles to represent Indian societies may be connected to the mound-building culture that had existed in the area (Warhus 1997: 79).

Infocom reader's map of fiction Zork III
Infocom reader's map of fiction Zork III

The map might be described as a nodal map, with each society being a node. The connections between them are not generally described on the map, apart form “The English path to Nasaw”. Some of the connectors are paths, others may be rivers (Warhus 1997: 79). In this it resembles the type of map that readers of Infocom’s Interactive Fiction (IF) were encouraged to draw in order to understand the landscape’s design and to solve the puzzles. In IF, nothing exists between the nodes; they are simply connectors from one location or room to another. If someone interacting with the fiction types “Go North” at the prompt, he or she will normally find themselves automatically transferred to the new location; what lies between is not known or considered. In effect, it is the wilderness between the identified locations. The itinerary of the interactor is predetermined by the identified destinations.

The Catawba map was a gift of communication from the Indians of the area between Charleston and the Mississippi. As Warhus explains, “… the map was a picture of the social and political geography of the region, made to inform the English governor of the lay of the land and exactly who lived where” (78). It is a snapshot of the moment that shows a landscape which is filled with already existing destinations. The land lying between the circles is meant mainly for moving through or as a source of hunting to supply those circles. In De Certeau’s terms, it is a representation that erases itineraries, creating an objective set of spatial relations divorced from temporal effects.

Unfortunately for the diverse Native America cultures depicted in the map, the erasure of temporality, this objectification that removes the process from the present, is an on-going process. The map is referred to as the Catawba Map despite the fact the Catawba did not exist in the map. Each of the cultures represented by these circles had “a separate tradition with its own leaders, kinship network, and territory” (Warhus 1997: 79). With the coming of the colonizers, they would increasingly need to merge the map circles so that they became the nation known as Catawba. In the map, the physical distances separating them is abbreviated, reduced to connecting lines; the cultural differences would soon need to follow the same pattern.

 

 

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