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Maps of the Red River Valley

1897 Map of languages.jpg

An educational map of language distribution from 1897 tells more than just about tribal languages and their interconnections. The map's mere existence explains how history turned into a social science (LOC).

I love, love, love telling history through maps. I don't really care for writing about people, as that can quickly  develop into veneration, and even a casual student of history knows how dangerously uninformed that can be. But maps are wonderful historical tools because they provide "snapshots" of not only regions in periods before satellite imagery, but also of the historical processes and political motivations of the time.


Reading maps is not just about figuring out where one is based on cardinal directions. This activity is an actual, active study of the past that books, articles, and even newspapers cannot provide.

Following are some articles explaining how I've read and interpreted maps of the Red River Valley. You may be pleasantly surprised how much information is contained on two-dimensional representations.

Oh, and remember, Rabbit is good, Rabbit is wise, so make sure to roll the maps. If you're a vintage 1990s person and from Oklahoma, you get the references!

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