However, not so. There are Washingtonian families whose history goes back before Captain John Smith's English arrival in 1607. These descendants have continued to be born in DC hospitals, gone to its schools and worked in both Federal and local governments. Yet, because they have been dismissed out of hand mostly by DC's relative newcommers, benign treatment of Native Americans, plus local ignorance of Amerindian history, they have become invisible. Our children deserve some clarity.
So, here is an insight into DC's indigenous history.
Presented by the PowhatanMuseum.com
THE DC AREA’S NATIVE AMERICAN MAP
Figure 1: Markers around the original ten square mile demarcation of Washington, DC, beginning on April 15, 1791 at Jones Point lighthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.
LOCAL NATIVE DC PATRIOTISM:
The Inside Scoop on the People Who Stayed
Figure 2: (L) Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent) with the likeness of her ancestor, Tauxenent leader, "Keziah Powhatan: the Firewoman Warrior" traditionally based totem in her Northwest DC Tauxenent home, giving a Land Acknowledgement blessing, August, 2020. Keziah burned down the Fairfax County courthouse in 1752. Her Tauxenent/Dogue tribe's land was given to Lord Fairfax by his cousin the King of England.
(R) Rose on her Fulbright Foundation’s Teacher Exchange (1994-1995) in front of the original Pocahontas statue, St. Georges Church, Gravesend, London. Pocahontas was buried under the alter of the church. While at the St. Georges School, she assisted teacher Di Coleman as a consultant and costume designer in a traveling play on Pocahontas’ life.
(2) Or see the Sankofa blessing on the opening of the beginning of Into Action on YouTube: https://youtu.be/T9zlVJvL1l4
Other than above photo, have you ever seen a real DC Indian?
identify as Navajo, neither can an Apache be a Miccosukee. Yet three related newly state
Figure 3: A Theodore de Bry (1528 – 1598) etching from John White’s watercolor of
Secotan Algonquians of the
Native Lives Matter and Land Acknowledgement narratives are in keeping with the inclusive movements of our times, as an honoring of our indigenous people, many of whom have become invisible. They suffer nationally from a spate of disappeared women; higher percentages of suicide, alcoholism, poverty and above numbers of devastating illnesses. Yet, Native Americans, including Rose Powhatan, her children, grandchildren, and other local Powhatan descended families who call DC home, have continued to survive in their ancestral Washington, DC homeland. This honoring of an Indigenous people in the spirit of a United Nations edict on indigeneity is necessary. It is an acknowledgement which makes a DC statement that all who are of Native descent can feel welcomed in a city which houses the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and other indigenous Federal and private sector workers as well as those transplants to our Nation's Capital. Native Lives will indeed matter.
A LOCAL NATIVE HISTORY
Washington, DC was carved out of Indigenous Amerindian territory originally named Attan Akamik, which turned into the Virginia Territory, then the states of Virginia, Maryland and other states as far north as New York.
Earlier in the 1600s, Wahubsenachaw (publicly known as Powhatan)
also provided life-saving corn during the
harsh 1600s winters. Scientists have recently found
that during this era the Americas became
much colder, caused by planetary cooling.
This was the result of the Amerindian Holocaust instigated
by the droves of European arrivals in
this hemisphere. The pandemic and killings caused an estimated 90% demise of indigenous
inhabitants in the
The Powhatan people also made clothes for the Revolutionary
War effort; Pamunkeys were persecuted for hiding
out escaping enslaved African Americans on their Tidewater reservation (the first North American
reservation); while cousins were marched off in chains
by the Confederates and charged for helping the Union Army during the Civil War. Powhatan descended stone
workers from the Tauxenent and Pamunkey, indigenous to the
Washington Area’s families, mined rocks from local
quarries which were built from their ancient ancestral stone
mines. One example is Rock Creek’s 3,000 year old
bluestone mine on
Other sites which these
Algonquian descendants helped to construct was the
The Powhatan descendants are not to be just dismissed entities, but are living people who have continued to contribute, born, educated, work, die and buried in DC and its surrounding Metropolitan Area.
The original “
Some Maryland Pamunkey (whose capital in the 32-34 tribal Powhatan Paramountcy, and its leading tribe,
originated in Prince William County, Virginia) while some of their villages
were located near other Algonquian tribes which lived in Prince Georges County
(they as well had other villages in Charles and St. Mary’s Counties of Maryland).
The only remaining presence of the Pamunky in
So, what happened to
Then, what happened to