Indian Reservation Sublevel Tagging

Might some indigenous groups themselves distinguish between land that they own and land that they have sovereignty over? There have often been questions about how to distinguish between a reservation and, say, off-reservation trust land. It isn’t a perfect analogy by any means, but it reminds me of how some cities (as a corporate entity) own land well outside their borders, sometimes in other states, on behalf of their residents. In the case of off-reservation trust lands, I recall that it’s common for maps to denote them somehow, but not necessarily in the same manner as a reservation. I could be wrong about that though.

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I don’t disagree that administrative areas should be treated with the same respect, and that the thrust of this entire topic of conversation is “what’s a reasonable, consistent, easily entered and easily understood way of respecting the 'parallel sovereignty ’ of native peoples in the United States (and potentially elsewhere)?” That said, I don’t think I’m trivializing tribal government boundaries by saying “not all ‘aboriginal lands’ (such as we call them on OSM) are administrative”…

My problem is with using the “aboriginal” value just because the boundary is related to a First Nation. It would likely be appropriate for a purely cultural area. Like an area held sacred by multiple tribles. Maybe even lands shared by multiple authorities, First Nation or other governments. In any case, it should not be use when it represents a a clearly defined administrative boundary. Basically all administrative boundaries should carry the appropriate value irrespective of the government type.

One of the constraints we’re dealing with is an entrenched assumption that any boundary=administrative boundary needs to fit into a single, overly simplistic admin_level=* hierarchy. That leads to fraught questions too, like whether a federally recognized reservation’s boundary should be admin_level=2 or 3 or 4, whether it’s a good idea to have crisscrossing chapter boundaries and county boundaries with the same admin_level=*, and at the end of the day that still doesn’t solve the problem of how to indicate that the chapter belongs to the reservation rather than the state.

border_type=* can resolve some of the ambiguity for mappers looking closely at the data, but not for the constellation of existing data consumers that will go on treating native boundaries like their nonnative counterparts. However important the symbolism around the boundary=* tag we use, there’s a certain danger in erasing distinctions too. I think we’d have to coordinate with data consumers to avoid unintended consequences.

For what it’s worth, the Polish community has long mapped Catholic administrative territories, which are parallel to the secular hierarchy, as boundary=religious_administration with admin_level=*. So maybe these agency and chapter boundaries can have admin_level=* without issue. If we need to emphasize the administrative nature of these boundaries, what if we migrate to a new boundary=indigenous_administration tag? Yes, it still includes the word “indigenous”, but depending on how it’s documented, maybe the tag could be positioned as acknowledging rather than marginalizing indigenous groups?