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CLIP 12111

Conquest through maps: British ambitions in North America (audio)

Conquest through maps: British ambitions in North America  (audio)

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Key Info
  • Conquest through maps: British ambitions in North America (audio)
  • Duration: 13:00
  • Neil MacGregor tells the story of a map drawn onto buckskin from North America in the 18th century. British and French ambitions in the New World led to what MacGregor describes as the 'first world war', as the two countries fought over territories in three continents. The map dates from a time after war between the British and French over North Ameria, but at the start of movements of British settlers into the American west. It depicts an area from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi. It was probably drawn by Piankshaw Indians with red circles and semi-circles representing Native American settlements. MacGregor describes how Native American maps are conceptually different to those of European settlers, which were designed to exert control over land and people. The native American mapmakers were concerned with different notions of space and time. Rivers were vitally important to Native Americans and the Wabash River runs along the spine of the deerskin, following the animal's life force. European settlements, such as St Louis, are not shown on the map - and the reverse happens in European maps of the time which do not mark Native American settlements. Analysis of the map reveals it is unlikely to be the original and was probably produced by a European and will thus have had a very different purpose, possibly as a contract of land ownership. Professor David Edmonds describes the Native American concept of land and ownership, their culture placed central importance on place for resources and for spirituality, the European concept of land ownership was an alien concept. This clip was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as part of the ‘History of the World in 100 Objects’ series. Please note this is an audio clip and only available in Flash.
  • Subject:



    History Skills

  • Keywords: maps, map making, Native Americans, indigenous people, British Empire, colonialism, colonisation, cartography, geography, History of the World, interpretation
Ideas for use in class
  • The clip discusses how the map may not be the original, possibly re-produced by a white person. The students can research why maps were produced on skins in 18th century North American cultures and also discuss the extent to which this map is trustworthy as a historical source for the study of European involvement in Native American life? Extension: comparing the area laid-out in the map to modern day maps so that students can understand the social and political geography of concern in the late 18th century. Cross ref to Geography. Images of the object and further information, including a full transcription of the programme, can be found on the programme page:
Background details
  • Clip language : English
  • Aspect ratio : 16x9

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