September 10, 2016

Yaocomaco and Piscataway Tribes of Maryland


 This year we are plunging into a study of Early American History and planning to take full advantage of the plethora of local historical sites. And that is why Camille and I got up early on a Saturday morning; packed the car with sunscreen, water bottles, a pile of audio books; made two quick pit stops to get freshly made doughnuts and traveling necessities (Twizzlers and Doritos); and hit the road for Historic St. Mary's City. We were hoping to make it in time to participate in their Native American Discovery Day. And as we were making the nearly two hour drive there I found myself hoping that it would be worth the drive. As soon as we arrived, it was clear to see that it was well worth the drive.  






We quickly jumped into doing a variety of hands-on activities: fire building, creating pinch pots with local clay, carving soapstone beads, and making a pokean (Native American hacky-sack made with corn husks, feathers, and beads). We learned about the native plants and food sources. Shot arrows. Helped to build mats from reeds that were collected that morning to add to the rooftops of the re-created Yaocomaco witchotts (longhouses). St. Mary's City, the first capital of Maryland, was established on the grounds of a Yaocomaco settlement. 





One of the highlights of the day was watching the Tayac Territory Singers and Dancers, members of the Piscataway Indian Nation, led by Mark Tayac son of the current hereditary chief, Chief Billy Tayac. It was hard not to be entranced by their beautiful outfits and their voices singing in Algonquin Piscataway while drumming and dancing. The Piscataway were one of the most populous and powerful tribes in the Chesapeake Bay region north of the Potomac. It was an honor to see them sharing their history and culture today. Want to learn more about the Piscataway? Meet Naiche is a good place to start. 




1 comment:

Corinne said...

St. Mary's City is one of my favorite cities - they ALWAYS do a good job! It's right near the beach house my parents rent every summer so we go often and always learn a lot and have fun. I'm so glad you made the trip and had a good experience :)