[Tagging] Tagging of Country Names

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny+osm at gmail.com
Sat Nov 5 22:08:42 UTC 2016

This is kind of straying, but 'dependent nations' are a case that is not
well handled at all. There are a number of cases (e.g. most Native American
reservations) where all parties agree on the boundaries - at least of the
current state of control, if not the 'rightful' borders, but most
emphatically do not agree on the political status of the territory.

A typically complex case is Ahkwesáhsne. It is one of several recognized
territories of the Kanien'kehá:ka Nation. It spans the border between the
USA and Canada. The US portion is known as the St. Regis Mohawk
Reservation. It has some of the attributes of a country - for instance, its
citizens are free to travel within its territory without clearing US or
Canadian customs and immigration. (Other USAians and Canadians do not have
that privilege.) It has three governments: the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
(a representative democracy elected from the Canadian portion of the area),
the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (a constitutional republic and the nominal
government of the US portion), and the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs (the
traditional and religious government of the Kanien'kehá:ka Nation), which
many residents see as the legitimate government of the nation. The MNCC is
not recognized by either the US or Canada, but in a 1948 election, the
traditional chiefs chosen by the Akwesasnro:non 83-1 over an elected
system. (The lack of a European-style constitutional framework impedes

The Kanien'kehá:ka Nation, even among the First Peoples, is a dependent
state. It is one of six members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which is
the nation with which most Akwesasnro:non would identify. Each of the other
nations retains territories with some sort of 'dependent nation' status in
both the US and Canada. In some cases they are combined - the Six Nations
of the Grand River reserve in Canada has residents belonging to each of the
Haudenosaunee nations, plus a group of Delaware (Lenape). This reserve has
nine official languages: the five Haudenosaunee languages, plus Tuscarora,
Munsee, English and French.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy has even more of the attributes of a nation.
It issues its own passports (and there have been times at which they have
even been accepted by other states, such as when it sent a delegation to
the League of Nations in 1923). It fields an Olympic lacrosse team, and is
generally recognized as a state in international lacrosse competitions.

In most cases, all agree on the current state of the borders of all of
these reserves. But they largely go unmapped, because there's no agreement
on what to call them. Whatever it is, it doesn't fit into a strict
admin_level hierarchy, because they span multiple admin_level=2 nations,
What is fundamentally wrong about our model is the assumption that "every
piece of land (except possibly Antarctica) is in one and only one nation."
or that "a dependent nation is associated with one and only one parent
state," or "the citizens of a nation share a common language."

We would do well to map agreed-on borders and tag things as best we can.
Right now, we seem to be frozen on mapping First Nations boundaries.

On Sat, Nov 5, 2016 at 12:29 PM, Richard Welty <rwelty at averillpark.net>

> On 11/5/16 10:58 AM, Martin Koppenhoefer wrote:
> >
> > interesting case, because it is an example that "official languages"
> > can be set on sub-country level as well (many states have defined
> > English as their official language).
> > It could also be argued that English is the defacto official language
> > in the USA, even if there is no law that states this, because all
> > legislation and jurisdiction (?) takes place in English (I am not sure
> > about this, maybe Native American Reservations etc. have different
> > languages?).
> i'm sure the tribes probably regard their own languages as "official".
> given
> the peculiar status of the reservations (sovereign except for when congress
> decides they're not) i can't say i really know how that issue resolves.
> (it also
> makes admin boundaries nasty - are they separate nations or aren't they?)
> richard
> --
> rwelty at averillpark.net
>  Averill Park Networking - GIS & IT Consulting
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