Native Lands Along the Pacific Crest Trail
A large reason I am drawn to the Pacific Crest Trail is to better know the lands that the trail passes through—to walk up the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and coast along their ridges, to sleep on the spines of the Cascade Range and rest on their shoulders. In preparing for my thru-hike, I have spent countless hours pouring over maps, looking at campsites, stream crossings, and water sources. At this point, I feel like I could draw the trail blind—a gross exaggeration, I assure you. To me, getting to know a place is a large part of preparation. It is my hope that in hiking the PCT, I will grow closer to lands that I already love and fall in love with new landscapes. But in doing so, I want to honor these spaces and their history.
In my research of the Pacific Crest Trail, I’ve found little mention of pre-1900 history of the land or mention of the current indigenous meaning that the land holds. From what I can tell, the Pacific Crest Trail has largely been popularized with little—if any– -acknowledgment of the indigenous history of the land. Outdoor recreators aren’t the first ones to explore these lands and I believe it is important to acknowledge those that came before us. So, for my own learning, I put together a list of all the native territories (as reported by Native Land Digital’s Native Land Territories Map) that the Pacific Crest Trail passes through. I was amazed by the abundance of territories along the trail! I decided to share the list I put together because I think others may be interested in learning more as well. The links on the list below go to Native Land Digital’s profile on each nation; from there, you can learn more by exploring the links they provide.
For those mobile-apt folks, Native Land Digital also has an app (called Native Land) which you can download for easier mobile access to the map. I know I’ll be downloading it before I hit the trail!
Here is the list I put together:
For those interested, here are the steps I took to prepare this list above:
- I downloaded the file “Halfmile PCT 2018 data in Google Earth KMZ Format” from The Halfmile Project.
- I downloaded the “Native Land Territories Map” from Native Land Digital.
- Because the “Native Land Territories Map” downloads as a JSON file, I used an online JSON to KMZ converter to convert the file to a format that was compatible with Google Earth.
- Then, I opened both the PCT map and the Native Land Territories Map (the newly-converted KMZ file) in Google Earth.
- At this point, I was able to move along the PCT to see exactly what territories the trail passes through. I followed the trail South to North and created a list of the native territories the trail crosses into. Sometimes the trail weaves back and forth, entering and leaving and re-entering a nation; in those instances, I only listed the nation once.
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