“The Historic Map of the Unconquered and Unconquerable Chickasaw People” won the People's Choice award at the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) International User Conference in July.

Chickasaw Nation Wins People’s Choice Award at Olympics of Mapmaking Event


Combining old world style map design—hand-drawn images that tell a story about the data on the map—with new technology led the Chickasaw Nation’s GeoSpatial Information Department to a People’s Choice award at what was described by a member of the team as the Olympics of geography and cartography.

The award was presented in July at the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) International User Conference where more than 15,000 attended representing 130 countries.

“That award represented every map in every category for the people who attended to vote on,” John Ellis, director of GeoSpatial Information said in a release. “It really was like our Olympics for the geography and cartography world. These are the top geographers and cartographers in the country, so it was an honor.”

He said the map, titled “The Historic Map of the Unconquered and Unconquerable Chickasaw People,” was so popular he spent most of his free time at the event answering questions, passing out brochures about the map and talking to other map professionals about it.

This People’s Choice award puts the Chickasaw Nation among previous winners like National Geographic, Harvard University, the U.S. Army and other countries including Japan, China and Russia.

Ellis said the map, which took more than three years to design and create, tells the story of the Chickasaw Nation—from early Dutch trading to astronaut John Herrington’s space shuttle mission.

He noted the map is a piece of art that will reveal something new to the viewer each time it is seen, but it’s ultimately a historic map. The actual map in the middle tells the story as well. The location and date of the Battle of Ackia is shown on it as well as removal routes, mounds and historic points and trading routes. The Battle of Ackia took place during the French-Chickasaw War of 1736 and marked a crucial win for the Chickasaw. Read more about the battle here.

“This map shows that members of the geospatial team not only have a grasp of the technology involved, they are very creative in their use of that technology,” Wayne Scribner, administrator of the Chickasaw Nation Division of Housing and Tribal Development, said in the release. “That helps them continue to go above and beyond what many might expect.”

To see other winners from the ESRI event, click here.

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