The Native Land Information System (NLIS) and related Native Lands Advocacy Project (NLAP) have developed a set of maps and data tools to support Tribes and Native communities to exercise sovereignty in habitat preservation and expansion, agricultural and food systems, and climate adaptation, with a focus on protecting and restoring Indigenous relations to land and non-human relatives.

Preserving Intact Habitat on US Native Lands Storymap


Screenshot of the Preserving Intact Habitat on US Native Lands map. Image source: Native Lands Advocacy Project [screenshot]. Retrieved 13 July 2022, from https://nativeland.info/blog/storymaps/preserving-intact-habitat-on-us-native-lands/

The Preserving Intact Habitat on US Native Lands storymap contextualises data on 'intact habitat' from the GIS company Esri's Green Infrastructure Initiative, with a particular focus on how this data can be mobilised by Native communities. Intact habitat refers to interconnected natural habitats and landscapes that are minimally fragmented or disturbed by infrastructure and industry, and the Native Lands Advocacy Project adopts this framework with the aim of promoting biodiversity, protecting cultural sites, and adapting and responding to environmental change. The map allows users to slide between a layer showing intact habitat cores and a layer showing land cover types, with Native lands marked out on both.

A central aspect of the storymap and NLAP's wider work is data sovereignty , which NLAP describes as 'the right of tribes to control what data is collected on their lands and among their members as well as who has access to that data', challenging colonial forms of data collection that have been operationalised in attempts to control and contain Indigenous peoples and lands. The Native Land Information System's maps and datasets provide practical tools for Native communities responding to climate colonialism, while also raising broader questions for smart forest projects about the conditions and contexts of datafication in forest environments.

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