Digital Atlas of California Native Americans



The Digital Atlas of California Native Americans (Atlas) is for educational and display purposes only. The geographical information displayed in the Atlas is not for use in determining locations of cultures, boundaries or people for recognition, consultation or any other legal or policy purpose. The resources displayed in the Atlas remain the property of their owners as cited. All resources are found in the public domain or displayed with the owner’s permission. The content of Tribal pages reflects the ideas and beliefs of the pages’ creators and does not constitute an official endorsement of any particular viewpoint.


Seal of the California Department of Parks and Recreation

Created at the California Department of Parks and Recreation with generous financial support from the DRAM Antitrust Settlement, the Digital Atlas of California Native Americans is a free, online multimedia tool to help students and the public visualize California before, during, and after European occupation, with a focus on the Native American experience, through a collection of map layers and informational pages.

The Atlas

The Atlas consists of five main parts: The Atlas Map, the Cultural Portals, the Tribal Atlas Pages, the Natural Resource Atlas Pages, and the Regional Timelines.

Atlas Map

The Atlas Map utilizes a combination GIS map layers, information from secondary sources, and links to primary sources to visualize California Native American history. The map layers include:

  • Cultural Base Map: the 60 traditional cultural regions of California, with links to a directory of affiliated Tribes and Tribal Atlas pages
  • Historical Lakes & Wetlands: California’s lakes and wetlands as depicted in an 1866 survey, prior to major water control and diversion projects
  • Natural Resources: Natural resources traditionally used in different regions of the state
  • Estimated Population in 1769: Estimated population by region before colonization
  • Trails: Approximate routes of trails used before colonization
  • Trade Relations: Trade relationships that existed before colonization
  • Missions: Locations of missions established during Spanish colonization
  • Spanish & Mexican Land Grants: Land appropriated and privatized during Spanish and Mexican colonization
  • Treaty Lands: Reservations and cessions as negotiated between Tribes and federal agents in early days of U.S. colonization
  • An American Genocide: Incidents of genocide as documented by historian Benjamin Madley in his 2016 book An American Genocide
  • Bounty Lands: Lands granted by the U.S. government to militiamen who participated in campaigns against Native Americans
  • Reservations & Allotments: Reservations and public domain allotments (PDA) in the 21st century

Background map sources: Esri, USGS | Esri, HERE, Garmin, FAO, NOAA, USGS, Bureau of Land Management, EPA, NPS

Credits & References

Link to web app