Monday, June 3, 2019

National Park Service Awareness of Native History of DC

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.

Sincerely yours,
Armand Lione, Ph.D.
DC Native History Project
Washington, DC

PS. Not being sure who at the NPS might be involved in this educational matter, I've ccd several others at NPS.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Request Meeting at Bolling to Discuss Marking Anacostan History

To address the issues raised by the Cost of Forgetting video on the Once As It Was map, I've requested a meeting with the Commander of Bolling Airforce Base to discuss markers for the Anacostan history of the site.

May 15, 2019

533 4th St. SE
Washington, DC

Captain Jose L. Rodriguez, Commanding Officer
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling
20 MacDill Blvd SW
Washington, DC 20032

Dear Captain Rodriquez,

As you may know, the documented history of the land which Bolling now covers began in 1608 when Captain John Smith identified it as the tribal land of the Chief of the Nacotchtank/Anacostan Natives (see link below to article with the detailed references and telling of the Anacostan story). The remains of over 100 Natives that were found on the Base in 1937, when it was being expanded, are also a significant part of that history (T. D. Stewart & W. R. Wedel, 1937).

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any acknowledgement of this Native American history on the Base (see The Cost of Forgetting video, link below).

I would like to meet with you or your representative and the base historian to discuss what might be done to acknowledge these important parts of the history of Bolling.

Best wishes,

Armand Lione, Ph.D., Director
DC Native History Project
Washington, DC


Why Did the Anacostan Indians Choose to Live on Capitol Hill?”
by Armand Lione, Ph.D. (online at:

T. D. Stewart and W. R. Wedel, "The Finding of Two Ossuaries on the Site of the Indian Village of
Nacotchtanke (Anacostia)." Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 27, no. 5 (1937): 213-19.

See also:

The Cost of Forgetting (online at: )

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Miami Circle - Miami, FL, Has A Memorial to Their Native People In The Center of the City!

At the mouth of the Miami River in the heart of the city there is an archeological site, Miami Circle.
It consists of a perfect circle measuring 38 feet of 600 postmolds that contain 24 holes or basins cut into the limestone bedrockIt is believed to have been the location of a structure, built by the Tequesta Indians between 1,700 and 2000 years ago.
The site was discovered in 1998 when an apartment complex on the site was torn down and an archeological field survey was done before redevelopment.

A controversy developed about how to preserve the site, which generated a lot of public support for purchasing it, and in November 1999, the State of Florida Preservation 2000 land acquisition program purchased the site from Property developer Michael Baumann for $26.7 million, using both state funds and donations from various foundations and private citizens.

There is also a large exhibit at the History Miami Museum explaining the site and displaying some of the objects found during field work at the site.

The History Miami Museum also has an extensive exhibit on the native Tequesta Indians of Miami.

Meanwhile in Washington, DC, we're waiting for any public (or online) exhibit that tells the rich history of our Anacostan First People!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Offering the Once As It Was Map to the American Indian Museum for Free

Kevin Gover, Director
National Museum of the American Indian
Washington, DC
December 17, 2018

Re: Adding An Interactive site on the Anacostan Natives of DC to the NMAI website

Dear Kevin Gover,

My interest in the Native history of Washington, DC spurred me to create the Once As It Was map of DC ( It is a collection of the major historical sites of the Anacostan Native people of DC. Those sites include the Capitol and the White House.

When I last wrote you in October (attached), the absence of the history of the Anacostans in the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) was contrasted with the excellent segment on the NMAI website that told the story of the Manahatta Natives of New York City. (See link from previous letter at end).

That link is not currently working on the NMAI website and a search for the title or even Natives of Manhattan does not show that pdf file. The original document is still available elsewhere online.*

Nevertheless, I'm hopeful that the NMAI would now see fit to include the story of the Anacostan Indians of DC on its website. I am writing to offer you the contents of the Once As It Was DC website. That material includes an article that has complete documentation for all of the website references.** I'm sure in the hands of your staff, a much better presentation can be given to the rich history of the Anacostans.

I appreciate having been contacted by Eileen Maxwell on your staff, but it has occurred to me that you may not have considered the use of the contents of my website, or you may have been concerned about the possible financial cost of transferring this information to the NMAI. This letter is to assure you that there would be no cost to the museum. The contents of the website and the overall map format are available to you free of charge.

However, if you do reproduce a version of the website, some note that acknowledges my intellectual contribution would be appreciated. The success of this transfer would remedy the disappointing situation of my website offering many details of the Native American history for Washington, DC that are not included in the NMAI or it's website.

If you would like comment and additional input on this matter from the descendents of the Anacostans, I'd suggest contacting the Piscataway-Conoy tribal council, which is based in Waldof, Maryland. Their website is

Please be in touch with any specific questions that might arise about this matter.

Sincerely yours,

Armand Lione, Ph.D.
533 4th St. SE, DC, 20003

cc: Eileen Maxwell, Supervisory Public Affairs Specialist, NMAI

Original link:
“Manahatta to Manhattan, Native Americans in Lower Manhattan” (

*The Manahatta to Manhatten pdf is still available online to view and download at this Washington state educational website:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Thomas Jefferson asked the name of the DC Natives & No one knew

The opening chapter of "Chocolate City (2017)" reviews what happened to the Natives of DC very well! (Although I've heard the Fleete story differently.)
There was no citation on page 15 for this item
Around 1800, Thomas Jefferson asked about "the name of the Native Americans who lived along the Eastern Branch, no one could answer him."

About 100 years later, in 1918, Margaret Brent Downing wrote:
The Earliest Proprietors of Capitol Hill

She complains on page 3. “Few cities of the larger and more cultured class have displayed a greater indifference towards the original owners of the land on which it has been built than the National Capital.”

Ms Downing was consistent with this complaint and never mentioned the Natives again in her article.

In 2018, you can visit the American Indian Museum and see this tradition upheld.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Skeleton of a Native Girl was found in 1883 when Garfield Park was being built

After the Washington Post article was published, Mark Herlong was kind enough to email me the news links from 1883 about the Anacostan relics that were found during the construction of Garfield Park. They included skeletal remains and hair from a young Native girl.  Here are the original articles:

Washington Post article on Anacostan History

Here's a link to an article the Washington Post ran on Nov. 23, 2018.
It would be better if the article talked less about me and more about the artifacts and Anacostan history, but getting word out is the important part.