Story maps of MILA are the result of community-driven and community-generated content from Native and Indigenous peoples with relationships to LA. The project actively petitions communities for story maps and provides a lengthy, step-by-step screenshot tutorial and guide for communities to outline the entire process—from securing permissions and curating visual content to narrative development. In order to have a community story map featured on MILA’s site, communities are asked to reach out the MILA team with a story map concept and key points, their team/ community, and a research timeline. After the initial contact and acceptance, MILA offers technical aid to those involved with the creation and maintenance of a story map. Esri’s Story Maps platform offers a readily available software, accessed via browser, that does not require high-level technical coding skill and can host narrative and visual content, in addition to map coordinates. Participants are encouraged to
Alive with Story 11
Figure 1.1 From “Mapping Indigenous LA: Placemaking Through Digital Storytelling.”
gather community histories in the form of photographs, interviews/oral histories, and videos to create dynamic and interactive experiences for viewers.
Esri’s Story Maps features two-paneled content to provide historical and contemporary visual representations of Native and Indigenous placemaking. The community-authored narrative panel provides opportunities to link to definitions, concepts, and related content.
The story maps currently featured on the site represent the significant effort of Native and Indigenous peoples to create community-authored representations and disorient settler configurations of space. Many of the maps overtly address settler colonial violence and erasures and draw out complex historical racialization processes. “Mapping Indigenous LA: Placemaking Through Digital Storytelling” provides an in-depth overview of the project, highlighting local original inhabitants and the promise for cross-cultural exchanges in the densely networked cityscape of Los Angeles. “Latin American Indigenous Diaspora” documents crucial events, community organizations, and places of community gathering for both a variety of Mayan and Indigenous Oaxacan peoples. “Indigenous Urbanity in Los Angeles: 1910s-1930s” deftly brings together migration and labor histories, cinema and media studies, Native and Indigenous scholarship and activism, and offers an oral history of a Chumash/Tohono O’odham Elder, whose family has lived in the Wilmington/ Carson for generations. Maps like the “Fernandeno Tataviam Map” and “Perspectives on A Selection of Gabrieleno/Tongva Places” offer intricate histories of dispossession and survival guided by Elders and community members, preserving Indigenous place-naming and the reclamation of historical place and presence. “American Indian Education Timeline & Resources” provides an overview of Indian education from its assimilationist, settler colonial roots to the establishment of tribal colleges and the current state of American Indian education. This map, like “American Indian Health Resources,” offers a series of currently accessible resources for American Indian community members. “Los Angeles Waterways” outlines the varied presence of waterways, both artificial and naturally occurring, along the LA landscape; the map regards water not simply as a resource but as an Indigenous lifeway and indicates current revitalization projects.
Resources and Pedagogical Materials
Mapping Indigenous Los Angeles hosts pedagogical materials and additional reading materials approved by Native and Indigenous community members and faculty. Again, the project encourages communities to offer their own community-created or community-approved resources. Teaching materials are divided by topic area and sub-divided into age ranges from K-12 resources to college-level reading materials. Topics encompass a variety of museum field trip guides, Indigenous and Native approaches to teaching, and resources for teaching Native American history ethically and responsibly in the state of California including critical approaches to the California Mission System. The site also provides resources for assessing American Indian materials and resources for Native and Indigenous educators. As such, MILA offers several avenues to dismantle settler state-sponsored narratives of conquest.
As with many digital projects, data sovereignty4 and information privacy pose concerns. For Native and Indigenous peoples who have historically had data pilfered and turned over to the state,"’ the right and ability to govern and keep secure knowledge and information is something each community must consider when deciding what information to share in a publicly available map through a university-affiliated project. The project currently requires that participants arrange information and data hosting through a variety of sites (for instance, Esri’s ArcGIS and image-hosting or video-hosting sites) and thus it is critical for participating Indigenous communities to carefully orchestrate community access and establish security protocol. MILA’s team offers workshops and technical support for Indigenous communities navigating the project.