Another America: Native American Maps and the History of Our Land, By Mark Warhus, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1997, $29.95.
Museum curator Mark Warhus’ successful national exhibit of maps made by American Indians inspired this book, which provides a glimpse at a world seldom seen by non-Indians. These maps are pictures of experience and were usually not created as permanent documents. “The features of geography were part of a much larger interconnected mental map that existed in the oral tradition…,” writes Warhus in the introduction. “These drawings were transitory illustrations for the oral documents. Those Native American maps that have survived are like pictures from a story in which the words are missing. Nevertheless, they provide a glimpse of North America as it was conceived by the continent’s indigenous peoples.” The native peoples cut maps into rocks (petroglyphs), incised message maps on birch bark and made maps on animal skins; later, of course, they used ink, pens, paper and pencils that arrived with the Europeans. Some of the maps show native routes and communication networks, but they also, as Warhus puts it, “are a record of the people, places and events that made the landscape meaningful.” This elegant 242-page book comes with 90 color and black-and-white reproductions of maps and photographs.