This guide offers information on Native American Culture and History. This is not an extensive list, but a place to begin further exploration of the indigenous tribal nations in this country. In this guide you will find books, film, articles, and community resources. If you have any questions or would like to suggest resources to include in this guide or the library collection, please fill out this form. Thank you.
We/I acknowledge that Goucher College currently occupies land within the geographic sphere of influence of the Susquehannock Tribe. They maintained a kinship with the land and believed that the land held no boundaries or ownership by Indigenous peoples.
We/I acknowledge that settler colonists and colonial structures are responsible for the displacement and genocide of Indigenous peoples through physical violence, forced removals, and Indigenous erasure. Refugees from genocided tribes formed new kinship relationships within neighboring tribes as a method of survival. While there are no Susquehannock polities today, Susquehannock peoples maintain their kinship, traditions, and histories from within neighboring tribes and maintain a vital kinship relationship with the Susquehanna River.
We/I acknowledge that we are uninvited guests currently occupying the ancestral homelands of the Susquehannock Tribe, as the result of broken treaties.
We/I acknowledge the wisdom of the Susquehannock Tribe, the Piscataway Indian Nation, the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, and the Choptico Band of Indians who graciously provided their time, histories, and knowledge to inform this land acknowledgement and educate the settler mindset. We recognize that the Cedarville Band of the Piscataway Indians also maintains a kinship with the land and has knowledge of histories, traditions, and cultures.
We/I acknowledge the commitment that Goucher College has made to understand and repair the wrongs of the past. The college is dedicated to moving forward and establishing meaningful and authentic relationships with Indigenous communities. This statement is a step in combatting Indigenous erasure and negative stereotypes.
Pronunciation Guide: “Accohannock:” æ-kꭤ-hæ-n⍺k (æ as in “bad;”⍺ as in “pod”); “Powhatan:” paʊ-hæ-tæn (aʊ as in “how;” æ as in “bad”)
Tribal Background: The Accohannock Indian Tribe is part of the Algonquian culture and language family, and was part of the Powhatan Empire for a period. At the start of European colonization in the 1500s and 1600s, the Powhatan Empire was the largest in the region, and stretched from present-day South Carolina to Maryland. Accohannock people continue to maintain relationships with lands that were formerly covered by forests; elders note that a squirrel could climb a tree at present-day Kiptopeke, Virginia, and not have to descend to the ground prior to reaching the Mississippi River. It is possible that in 1524 the Accohannock encountered Giovanni Verrazzano, an Italian explorer working for the king of France, as he sailed north along the Eastern seaboard. However, there appears to be insufficient historical evidence for historians to say categorically if the land Verrazzano dubbed “Arcadia” referred to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, or to Kitty Hawk in present-day North Carolina.
excerpt taken from MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Overview and Resource Guide, p. 13 & 14
Pronunciation Guide: “Assateague:” æs-ʌ-tig (æ as in “bad;” ʌ as in “bud;” i as in “bead”)
Tribal Background: The Assateague People’s Tribe is part of the Algonquian culture group and language family. In the 1600s, the infamous politician Edmund Scarborough, who lived on what is now the Virginia side of the Eastern Shore, was obsessed with murdering as many Indigenous peoples as possible, notably the Assateague. In what became known as the “Seaside War” of 1659, Scarborough unsuccessfully requested help from the Maryland Colony to commit genocide on the Assateague. He later wrote that the Assateague “were harder to find than to conquer.” In 1662, the Assateague and their neighbors the Nanticoke signed a treaty with the Maryland Colony. This treaty included provisions for the ways settlers could exchange “matchcoats,” a traditional indigenous garment, for land within Assateague territory. A later treaty forced the Assateague onto five reservations along the Pocomoke River. In 1671, many Assateague tribal peoples moved with their Pocomoke neighbors to Askiminokonson or Indian Town on the north side of the Pocomoke River near present-day Snow Hill. When the provincial Maryland government learned in 1742 that Assateague leaders were participating in a general Native uprising, Maryland leaders “dissolved” the Assateague tribal empire. Afterwards, many Assateague tribal members moved north to Iroquoian lands; some chose to remain. Present-day leadership for local tribal members is based in Delaware.
excerpt taken from MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Overview and Resource Guide, p. 15 & 16
Pronunciation Guide: “Choptico:” tʃ⍺p-ti-co (tʃ as in “chin;” ⍺ as in “pod;” i as in “bead;” o as in “boat”); “Conoy:” kʌ-nɔɪ (ʌ as in “bud;” ɔɪ as in “boy”); “Piscataway:” pɪs-cæ-tʌ-we (ɪ as in “bid;” æ as in “bad;” ʌ as in “bud;” e as in “bay”)
Tribal Background: Along with other Piscataway tribal peoples, the Choptico Band is part of the Algonquian culture group and language family. Prior to the start of European colonization, the Choptico maintained relationships with many of their neighbors through trade and marriage, and with their lands through hunting and foraging. Following European settlement, Piscataway and other tribal peoples attempted to use the English as a buffer between themselves and the Susquehannocks and other Iroquoian tribes further north. With other tribes, they signed a 1666 Treaty of Peace and Amity with the Maryland Colony, which initiated a colonial reservation system in which Natives were increasingly confined to strictly-defined land bases. In 1680, Charles Calvert, the third Lord Baltimore and Governor of the Maryland Colony, built Zekiah Fort in Zekiah Swamp in present-day Charles County to protect Piscataway and other Native peoples from Iroquoian raids. Archaeologists consulting with Piscataway peoples revealed the Fort during a 2011 archaeological dig. Soon after constructing the Fort, the Colony adapted the English feudal system to establish tribal lands as feudal “manors'' partially to protect their Indigenous allies from raids. Of these, “Choptico Manor'' was surveyed in 1651, patented in 1671, and confirmed in 1688 on the Wicomico River (the Potomac River tributary on the Western Shore, not the Chesapeake Bay tributary on the Eastern Shore). Land Acknowledgement Project Overview and Resource Guide - 18 Today, Piscataway peoples organize themselves into four different and related groups: the Piscataway Indian Nation; and the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, which includes a tribal council, the Cedarville Band of Piscataway Indians, and the Choptico Band of Indians. Along with the Piscataway Indian Nation, the Piscataway Conoy Tribe received state recognition from the State of Maryland in 2012.
excerpt taken from MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Overview and Resource Guide, p. 17 & 18
Pronunciation Guide: “Nause:” næ-su (æ as in “bad;” u as in “booed”); “Waiwash:” we-w⍺ʃ (e as in “bay;” ⍺ as in “pod;” ʃ as in “shy”)
Tribal Background: The Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians take their name from two Nanticoke villages that encountered English explorer John Smith in the 1600s: Nause and Waiwash. The Band self-defines as the descendants of Nanticoke and other Algonquian Indigenous peoples local to present-day Dorchester County. Prior to the start of European settlement, tribal peoples lived close to the Chesapeake Bay and spent winters further inland hunting. Muskrat trapping continues to be an important winter tradition maintained by many tribal members. Colonial encroachment pushed many Native families into the marshes where they hid. In the 1980s, Sewell Fitzhugh organized the Band with the support of local Native families and was elected as the first chief by the women of the Band. In the late 1990s, the Band was gifted the Hughes African Methodist Episcopal Chapel, which they now use as a ceremonial and cultural center. Since then, leadership promotes an active schedule of educational and cultural events across Dorchester County. Learn more about them on the Nause-Waiwash website, TurtleTracks.org.
excerpt taken from MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Overview and Resource Guide, p. 21-23
Pronunciation Guide: “Moyaone:” maɪ-on (aɪ as in “like;” o as in “boat”); “Piscataway:” pɪs-cæ-tʌ-we (ɪ as in “bid;” æ as in “bad;” ʌ as in “bud;” e as in “bay”)
Tribal Background: Along with other Piscataway groups, the Piscataway Indian Nation is part of the Algonquian culture group and language family. Prior to European colonization, Piscataway peoples spread their villages and towns across their lands in order not to deplete food sources. Each village was overseen by a single leader who followed the instructions of the people and answered to the clan mothers. During settlement, English settlers compelled Piscataway peoples to convert to Catholicism. While some Piscataway people practice Catholicism today, many tribal members maintain traditional religious beliefs and ceremonies. A 1666 Treaty between the Colony of Maryland and twelve tribes from the Western Shore transformed their respective lands in contemporary southern Maryland into reservations. The treaty negatively affected the Piscataway in many ways. It also established tribal peoples’ right to fish, hunt, and crab in the legal code of the Colony. In 2020, the Washington D.C. Council approved a measure honoring those fishing rights by making free fishing licenses available to members of the Piscataway Indian Nation and Piscataway Conoy Tribe.
Colonial machinations to take their lands and destroy their ways of life resulted in Piscataway peoples becoming “beaten down,” in the words of the late Piscataway Indian Nation Chief Billy Tayac (1936-2021), and many families hid or emigrated to nearby tribes. Elders note that settlers used these “disappearances” of tribal peoples as a justification to steal more tribal lands, even going so far as to redefine tribal people as “white” or “black.” The colonial “logic” behind this settler “move to innocence” was that if a distinct Indigenous “race” or ethnic group no longer existed, then settlers could assume ownership of tribal lands.
Reacting to the ways that his people were “beaten down,” the late Piscataway Indian Nation Chief Turkey Tayac (1895–1978) sparked a cultural revitalization movement that connected with and paralleled the national American Indian Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Part of his work resulted in the Piscataway Indian Nation’s long-time capitol town, Moyaone, being turned into a federal U.S. park, Piscataway Park in Prince George’s County, also known as the Accokeek Creek archaeological site. Archaeologists note that Moyaone has been intermittently inhabited for at least 4000 years. Chief Turkey Tayac was the 27th generation of hereditary chiefs in the Tayac bloodline to govern Moyaone. U.S. congressional legislation permitted Turkey Tayac to be buried with his ancestors at Piscataway Park, becoming the first American Indian person to be buried in a traditional burial site after it had been designated a federal park. Following Turkey Tayac’s death, his son, the late Piscataway Indian Nation Chief Billy Tayac, and grandson, the current Piscataway Indian Nation Chief Mark Tayac, continued Turkey Tayac’s activist legacy by working within the American Indian Movement. Today, Piscataway peoples organize themselves into four different and related groups: the Piscataway Indian Nation; and the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, which includes a tribal council, the Cedarville Band of Piscataway Indians, and the Choptico Band of Indians. Along with the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, the Piscataway Indian Nation received state recognition from the State of Maryland in 2012.
excerpt taken from MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Overview and Resource Guide, p. 24-27
Pronunciation Guide: “Pocomoke:” po-ko-mok (o as in “boat”); “Acquintica:” ⍺-kwɪn-tɪ-k⍺ (⍺ as in “pod; ɪ as in “bid”); “Annemessex:” æn-nʌ-mε-sεks (æ as in “bad;” ʌ as in “bud;” ε as in “bed;”); “Gingoteague:” dʒɪ-ko-tig (dʒ as in “gin;” ɪ as in “bid;” o as in “boat;” i as in “bead;”); “Manoakin:” mæ-no-kɪn (æ as in “bad;” o as in “boat;” ɪ as in “bid”); “Morumsco:” mor-ʌm-sko (o as in “boat;” ʌ as in “bud;); “Nuswattux:” nʌs-wæ-tʌks (ʌ as in “bud; æ as in “bad”); “Quindocqua:” kwɪn-d⍺-kw⍺ (ɪ as in “bid;” ⍺ as in “pod;”)
Tribal Background: Part of the Algonquian culture group and language family, Pocomoke peoples lived along the Eastern Shore rivers and streams that feed into the Chesapeake Bay, often spending the winters hunting further inland before the start of European colonization. It’s possible that in 1524 the Pocomoke encountered Giovanni Verrazzano, an Italian explorer working for the king of France as he sailed north along the eastern seaboard. However, there appears to be insufficient historical evidence for historians to say categorically if the land Verrazzano dubbed “Arcadia” referred to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, or to Kitty Hawk in present-day North Carolina. In 1590 the Pocomoke appear on John White’s map as “Comokee;” in 1612, the leader’s house appears on English explorer John Smith’s Map of Virginia mislabeled as “Wighcocomoco.” Settlers increasingly encroached on their lands. In 1678, Lord Baltimore set aside a series of reserve lands allegedly for the exclusive use of tribal peoples, including Askiminokonson or Indian Town near present-day Snow Hill, where the Pocomoke lived for a time with other tribal peoples.
Pocomoke leaders signed four different treaties with the Maryland colony between 1678 and 1742, sometimes in concert with other tribal peoples. These treaties became increasingly restrictive, and variously included provisions for peace, described Pocomoke hunting and fishing rights, and required tribal people to tell colonial authorities when other Indigenous people were in the area.
The Pocomoke become difficult to trace in historic documents after 1742. Today, Pocomoke members work to educate the public in order to preserve their history and heritage. They maintain an active schedule that includes presentations, demonstrations of pre-colonial skills, and partnerships with museums, cultural centers, and schools on and near their traditional lands. Learn more about them on the Pocomoke Indian Nation website, PocomokeIndianNation.org.
excerpt taken from MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Overview and Resource Guide, p. 28-30
Pronunciation Guide: “Susquehannock:” sʌs-kwʌ-hæ-n⍺k (ʌ as in “bud;” æ as in “bad;” ⍺ as in “pod”); “Conestoga:” k⍺-nʌ-sto-g⍺ (⍺ as in “pod;” ʌ as in “bud;” o as in “boat”)
Tribal Background: The Indigenous confederacy today often known as the “Susquehannock” was part of the Iroquoian language and culture family. The name “Susquehannock” is an English-language transliteration by settlers in the Maryland and Virginia colonies of the Powhatan exonym (a word that derives from outside of a particular place or community) sometimes spelled Susquesahanough. English settlers in Pennsylvania called peoples of this Confederacy the “Conestoga'' after one of the last remaining Susquehannock villages in present-day Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Dutch and Swedish settlers called peoples of this Confederacy Minquas, which derives from an exonym used by the Lenape, a traditional enemy of the Susquehannock.
Many colonial sources on the Susquehannocks describe their raids of Algonquian tribes in contemporary central and southern Maryland. Indeed, Piscataway peoples hoped that the English would function as a buffer between their peoples and the Susquehannock and other Iroquoian peoples further north.
There is currently no Susquehannock polity or governing body; the last Susquehannock government died with tribal members during the Paxton Massacre of the Conestoga in 1763. Today Susquehannock descendants maintain their bloodlines, histories, and relationships with the Susquehanna River from within neighboring tribes, including Cayuga, Lenape, Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, and Shawnee. The Circle Legacy Center (CircleLegacyCenter.com) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is the primary Susquehannock-supporting cultural. Some descendants prefer to identify as Susquehanna Indians rather than Susquehannock Indians, citing a deep relationship with the River itself and a preference to avoid using a Powhatan-derived term.
excerpt taken from MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Overview and Resource Guide, p. 31-33
Pronunciation Guide: “Youghiogheny:” j⍺-kʌ-ge-ni (j as in “you;” ⍺ as in “pod;” ʌ as in “bud;” e as in “bay;” i as in “bead;”); “Shawnee:” ʃ⍺-ni (ʃ as in “shy;” ⍺ as in “pod;” i as in “bead”)
Tribal Background: Shawnee peoples are part of the Algonquian culture group and language family. The Youghiogheny River Band of Shawnee includes members of three distinct clans (Eagle, Hawk, and Sycamore) of Shawnee. Historically the tribe has twelve total clans and five separate septs that carry out key areas of governance. Perhaps best known for relating with lands in the Ohio River Valley, Shawnee peoples maintained a semi-migratory nomadic tradition prior to the start of European settlement. Sometimes known as the people of the south wind, they traveled across the eastern seaboard, maintaining kinship ties with Muskogee and Lenape peoples. Settlers encroaching on Shawnee lands caused additional migrations and later forced those migrations to cease. In present-day Maryland, Youghiogheny River Band members forged kinship ties especially with settlers in Friendsville, which they still maintain to this day. The Youghiogheny River Band’s current ceremonial grounds lie on lands returned to the Band by a former Friendsville mayor.
excerpt taken from MSAC Land Acknowledgement Project Overview and Resource Guide, p. 34-36
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