Long before European contact in the 1600s, Tribes of the Piscataway Confederacy had long established settlements along the Patuxent River. Establishment of the village location was determined based upon how conducive the area was to fishing, planting, gathering, hunting, and trading, which enabled tribes to sustain themselves for long periods. Over time, large semi-permanent villages developed. Each village was self-sufficient, however, still linked to others through marriage, trade, and politics. Several villages along the Patuxent River are shown on Captain John Smith’s 1608 map of his explorations of the Chesapeake Region.
Woodland Tribes, like many people across the globe, became efficient care takers of their local natural resources. They knew the cycles of the rivers and lands, which provided abundant fish, shellfish, and edible plants to sustain their villages. Through trade and communication they harvested many different types of plants and vegetables that included corn, beans, and squash. The development of pottery allowed the village to store and control their food and seed supply from season to season.
Traces of the Past
Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of artifacts along the Patuxent River reflecting the Woodland Indian Culture. Artifacts (such as stone tools, pottery, smoking pipes, ornamental beads and copper, fish and animal bones), as well as evidence of longhouses and wigwams all reflect the traditional Woodland Indian way of life.
Where are we now?
Some of the ancestors of the First Peoples of Maryland died of diseases that came over with the colonist, some died fighting to keep their families safe and to keep their lands, some where forced off of their land, some where forced to live on reservations but did not survive the trip, some joined new tribes and nations, some where forced to deny their heritage as the First peoples, (or Indians as they are called) therefore becoming a race that was chosen for them.
The descendants of the First Peoples are still alive.They are active members in society. They may live in the same neighborhood as you and work at the same company with you. They attend the same schools as you, shop at the same places and wear the same fashions of today. They are teachers, politicians, soldiers, doctors, lawyers, and more.
The descendants of the First Peoples of Maryland are a proud nation who make up the diversified fabric of Prince George's County, Maryland and the surrounding areas.