June 3, 2019
Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini, Acting Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
During the last 3 years I've been collecting the largely untold stories of the Native people of Washington, DC.
You can review my collected work in the following links:
It's been a source of frustration that so little is said about our Native people, particularly the absence of their story at the National Museum of the American Indian, both at the museum and on the Museum's website.
These were the people who once walked the land under the museum and had a village site, identified in the 1880s, only a few blocks away.
I appreciate that some of the few places around the city, such as Roosevelt Island and Anacostia Park, the NPS has acknowledged the Natives people of DC!
On a recent Saturday night I attended the rehearsal for the Capitol Memorial Day show. During one of the longer breaks in the night, I chatted with a NPS officer who had lived in DC for more than 10 years. Asking if she knew the name of the native people of Washington, she thought and said, “No.”
Please try the test yourself on others in the NPS and see how many can name our Native people!
This isn't a new issue. The opening chapter of "Chocolate City (2017)" recounts how, around 1800, Thomas Jefferson asked about "the name of the Native Americans who lived along the Eastern Branch, no one could answer him." I've found that Andrew Ellicott later wrote Jefferson and recalled his question from a “few years ago,” and told him the answer.
Please consider what orientation you currently give to NPS staff and officers in the Washington, DC area, regarding the Native people of this area. I would welcome information on how unusual my experience was and how the materials given to staff actually do review this basic history.
Armand Lione, Ph.D.
DC Native History Project
PS. Not being sure who at the NPS might be involved in this educational matter, I've ccd several others at NPS.