City’s GIS division partners with Museum Broken Arrow on Muscogee Creek Nation allotment project


Source: City of Broken Arrow

The City of Broken Arrow’s Geographic Information System (GIS) Division has been working on a special request from the Museum Broken Arrow to produce a map which depicts the original Muscogee Creek Nation allotments over a current Tulsa area map.

GIS Specialist Clint Myers spoke about the project before the 2022 Oklahoma South Central Arc User Group (OKSCAUG) meeting held at Nienhuis Community Center on Aug. 4.

GIS Division Manager Willard Gustafson received a request from the Broken Arrow Museum to produce the map as a part of the Museum’s Land Acknowledgement Project to acknowledge the people who originally inhabited Broken Arrow.

“We reached out to many people to see where we could best bring this idea into fruition and we ended up with the City of Broken Arrow’s GIS Department,” Museum Broken Arrow Director Julie Brown said at the meeting. “Clint and Willard have been lovely and really taken this project on and we really appreciate them doing this for us and for the community.”

Brown provided the City with a link to an online version of Hastain’s Township plats of the Creek Nation that was originally published in 1910 and documents the Muscogee Creek Nation Allotments following the Trail of Tears.

The team researched and found open sources from the Oklahoma Historical Society including 330 pages of the Hastain’s Maps documentation of the allotments. From that, they separated the map into sections and townships and GEO referenced the information into an interactive map and used a surveyor who measured sections and corners to tie it together with the map.

Myers downloaded, georeferenced and created a mosaic of the images for the areas corresponding with the City of Broken Arrow fence line.

“We used this mosaic to create a simple web application that utilizes the ‘swipe’ widget to compare the historic map with the current features,” Myers said.

The team wanted to go even deeper and provide a way for people to search by an allottee’s name and allotment number.

“But, since we have limited resources, we could only dedicate the time necessary to digitize each polygon and manually populate the corresponding attributes with the information from the map,” Myers said. “So to accomplish this, we have digitized the polygons for each parcel, and created attributes to hold the information to be extracted from the historical map.”

They have also partnered with the Museum Broken Arrow to allow interns to populate the polygon attributes using a web map application that is still under development.

“This project has vast potential far beyond Museum Broken Arrow’s use and we are excited for the potential it has for connecting people to the land in a special way that honors those who have come before us,” Myers said.

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