7th Grade Students Study “Google Maps with a Time Machine”

October 21, 2022

7th grade American History teachers Paul Lederer and Alicia Benis have discovered a time portal that allows their students to see what Manhattan looked like in 1609, when it was home to the indigenous Lenape people, before Europeans arrived. The Welikia Project (Welikia means “my good home” in Lenape) features an interactive map that allows you to click on (or type in) a location in Manhattan to see what it looks like now as well as how it might have looked in 1609. Or, as Paul put it, “Google Maps with a time machine.” As you zoom in, you can also click on tabs to learn about the plants and animals that might have lived there in 1609; about the life of the Lenape; and about the physical landscape. Students who are accustomed to seeing the city’s skyscrapers and subways were surprised to see woodlands and beavers in what was known as “Manahatta.”

For a global perspective, Alicia introduced the Native Land app, which maps Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages around the world. One of the interesting things about the map in this app is that it doesn’t show any modern country or state boundaries, unless you select that view. It displays the globe according to its indigenous peoples, rather than the colonizers who drew the maps.

Try both apps yourself to learn more about the land we live on.

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