To better understand land cession maps made by Sam B. Hilliard, a geography and anthropology professor at Louisiana State University, Tumblr user sunisup created an animation that shows dates and land occupied by Native American tribes beginning in 1784.
Sunisup said “I was having trouble visualizing the sheer scale of the land loss, and reading numbers like ‘blah blah million acres’ wasn’t really doing it for me.” The visualization certainly helps put into perspective how quickly land was taken from the tribes.
See the progression of land loss starting in 1784:
For those who prefer dealing with numbers, sunisup offers this numbers based reference from In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided by Walter R. Echo-Hawk. “By 1881, Indian landholdings in the United States had plummeted to 156 million acres. By 1934, only about 50 million acres remained (an area the size of Idaho and Washington) as a result of the General Allotment Act of 1887. During World War II, the government took 500,000 more acres for military use. Over one hundred tribes, bands, and Rancherias relinquished their lands under various acts of Congress during the termination era of the 1950s.”
Hilliard points out in his research that his maps deal only with land cession, not with the creation of reservations. His information came from current Bureau of Indian Affairs maps, but he says smaller plots were omitted because they cannot be shown effectively.
Indian Country Today Media Network goes a little farther back in our graphic representation of what this country looked like as far as Indian lands before European contact:
Here also is ICTMN’s representation of what Indian country looks like today (some of the smaller reservations in the east are admittedly difficult to see):