Encroachment by Word, Axis, and Tree: Mapping Techniques from the Colonization of New England

  • Margaret W. Pearce

Abstract

It is well established that mapping has been an important tool for the colonization of North America. Techniques such as removal of toponymy, alteration of a boundary line location, and use of a map grid, were all successfully used for advancing colonial interests in the printed regional and national maps of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This article compares these known techniques to those that were used in local, town level mapping in Connecticut during the same period. Whereas toponymic removal and replacement are found to remain central to cartographic encroachment at the local level, English colonists also successfully encroached on unpurchased Native lands through other uses of toponyms, as well as new devices such as the axis, tree-marking, and appropriation of Native mapping style. Native people actively contested these encroachments at the town and colony levels; these resistances successfully slowed but did not stop the mappings’ effects. The final effectiveness of each encroachment technique is found to depend on its ability to maintain a vague definition of territory and boundaries within an aura of precision and legality.
Published
2004-06-01
How to Cite
Pearce, M. W. (2004). Encroachment by Word, Axis, and Tree: Mapping Techniques from the Colonization of New England. Cartographic Perspectives, (48), 24-38. https://doi.org/10.14714/CP48.457
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