The First Marylanders Were Native Americans
by M.L. Faunce
The first people came to Maryland over 10,000 years
ago. That was about 8,370 years earlier than the English
people who gave our state and counties their names.
Because they were here first, those earliest settlers are called Native Americans.
(Theyre also called Indians, because Christopher Columbus thought hed sailed around the world to India when he reached their lands. Today we know India was still half a world away.)
Youll recognize the names of some of the native American tribes who were here in Maryland before us. Susquehannocks, Patuxent, Piscataway, Nanticoke, Choptank their names live on as the names of many of our rivers. Chesapeake is their word, too, meaning Great Shellfish Bay.
"Many of our rivers, streams, forests, trails, islands, towns and landmarks bear historical and cultural ties to Marylands tribes through their names," says our governor, Parris Glendening.
The land and water fed these woodland tribes. They hunted squirrels and rabbits, deer and bear. They caught fish and gathered oysters. They also planted corn. We learned much about living in this country from them.
The Native Americans had rituals and traditions that connected them to the earth and their holy spirits and their tribes. In their religious ceremonies, they performed special songs and dances and said prayers. They believed that water and stone and fire and animals all possessed spirits just like people do.
Heres a Native American ritual good for strengthening connections. You can do it with your family and friends.
Gather round in a circle. Bring a stone, feather or other natural object that seems special to you. Pass it from person to person in the circle. Whoever holds it has the right to talk without interruption as long as he or she likes. The ritual promotes freedom of speech. It allows each speaker to have other peoples respect while talking, so it makes good listeners, too.
You might make a talking circle as part of your Thanksgiving ritual. Do it as a way for the people in your tribe to count their blessings. Then youll know what our governor meant when he said, "Our history and culture are enriched by the many contributions of native Americans."
Try a talking circle and see if it works.
Governor Glendening Says: "November
is Native American Month in Maryland."
Colonial Hands-on Holiday Sat. Nov. 21 (10-noon & 1-3pm)-Kids experience the music and feel of colonial times. Listen to songs and stories, learn what colonial children ate and how they played. then make a craft. Charles Carrol House, Annapolis. $5; rsvp: 410/269-1737.
Art from Nature Sat. Nov. 21 (11-1pm)-Families walk to collect vines, cones and lots of stuff to make an autumn home decoration. Kings Landing Park, Huntingtown. $2/family; rsvp: 410/535-5327.
Play with Power Toys Sat. Nov. 21 (11-2)-Test drive Rokenboks - Lego-compatible, radio-controlled building block sets. Sets include Fast Emergency Vehicle and Vacuum Vehicle. Also enter to win a $150 Rokenbok Power Chute Set. BeBeep Toys at 558A Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park: 410/544-1844 or 2327C Forest Dr., Annapolis: 410/224-4066.
Duck, Duck, Goose Sat. Nov. 21 (1:30-3pm)-Kids ages 6+ learn the special traits that make ducks different from geese on a nature hike thru Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary. Upper Marlboro. $1 class fee; $2 entry fee; rsvp: 301/888-1410.
Draw from Nature Sat. Nov. 21 (2-3pm)-If youre 9 or older, gather up your pens, pencils and sketchbook plus folding chair and walk into the marsh to copy life there. Kings Landing Park, Huntingtown. $2/family; rsvp: 410/535-5327.
Gifts from Native Americans Nov. 21 (10:30am) & 24 (1:30pm)-Kids 5-9 learn about food, clothing and games that come to us from Native Americans. Chesapeake Childrens Museum, Festival at Riva Rd. Shopping Ctr., Annapolis. $6: 410/267-0677.
Turkey Talk Nov. 21 & 25 (10-10:30)-Kids 2-3 w/adult see how wild turkeys live in the fields at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, then make one to take home. Port Republic. Free but rsvp: 410/535-5327.
What Makes a Lake? Sun. Nov. 22 (2-3pm)-Kids 8+ discover how lakes rise and fall in the years cycle. Patuxent Research Refuge, North Tract, Rt. 198 btwn. BW Pkwy. & Rt. 32. free but rsvp: 410/674-3304.
Hike the Night Sun. Nov. 22 (6:30pm)-Kids 8+ walk out after dark with guides, seeking animals who use night like we do day. Patuxent Research Refuge, North Tract, Rt. 198 btwn. BW Pkwy. & Rt. 32. free but rsvp: 410/674-3304.
Who Lives in the Meadow?Mon. Nov. 23 (11am)-Kids 4-6 learn about creatures that make homes in meadows. Patuxent Research Refuge, North Tract, Rt. 198 btwn. BW Pkwy. & Rt. 32. free but rsvp: 410/674-3304.
Holiday Camp Nov. 23, 24 & 25 (7am-6pm)-Looking to do something
special when schools out? Kids grades K-6 sign up for any of three
days of fun at Holiday Camp. They serve snacks; you bring lunch. Organized
by AA County Recreation and Parks at South County Recreation Center. $15/day;