Letters to the Editor: Response to Dan Cole's Review

David Imus

Dan Cole’s review of The Essential Geography of the United States of America, which appeared in issue 72 of this journal, raises a number of interesting issues worthy of lengthy discussion. Five of them, however, I can address comprehensively with just a few words.

  1. A folded map often requires a reversed cover panel, standing it on its head in relation to the rest of the printed image so that it is right-reading in the sales rack. If the flat sheets had been published with a panel standing on its head, that indeed would have been indefensible. But the flat sheets are published without the cover panel, and the same basic information appears in a separate sheet of “liner notes.”
  2. In keeping with the use of Spanish spellings in Mexico and French spellings in Québec, I used the reservation nomenclature adopted by the Indian Land Working Group for its map titled “Native American Reservations.”
  3. I specifically decided to represent the Umatilla Reservation as a point symbol after first comparing polygon vs. point representations. Due to its small size and the high percentage of its boundary line that would have been obscured by overprinting type, this reservation’s geographic extent would not have been easy for the user to see when represented as a polygon. It also would have been misleading to show the Umatilla Reservation as a polygon, since much of the area inside the congressional boundary is non-reservation land.
  4. While it is true that the Yakama, Jicarilla Apache, and Tohono O’odham people identify themselves as “nations,” the websites of these three nations identify their associated lands as “reservations.”
  5. The reviewer correctly notes the omission of two reservations in Nebraska, which will be corrected in the next edition.

More generally, I appreciate the reviewer’s many positive observations and his generous summing up. Many of his substantive criticisms, however, seem to me to reference the press release more than the map. Criticizing the press release may be valid, but it doesn’t address the reasoned cartographic judgments behind virtually every detail on this map, and a more comprehensive explanation of those judgments is appropriate. I'm working on that now and plan to submit it as an article to Cartographic Perspectives in the near future.