Friday, December 2, 2022
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
Native American Heritage Day 2022 Video - The Restoration of Native Fishing Rights by Washington, DC!
A 1666 Treaty between the colonists and the Piscataway and Anacostan tribes, among others, stated:
"The priviledge of hunting Crabbing fishing & fowleing shall be preserved to the Indians inviolably.”
When members of the DC City Council learned about this treaty, they passed a bill giving local Natives free fishing licenses. The first licenses were presented at a ceremony on Oct. 15, 2022.
This 2.20 min video tells the details of that story, in honor of Native American Heritage Day, 2022!
Fishing Bill video NAHD 2022: https://youtu.be/HKgNskifpQg
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Archaeology done at Fletcher's Boathouse in 1997, before some parking lot construction, located more than 8 large Native storage pits. They seem to have been dug sequentially at roughly the same time, more than 2000 years ago. One theory for their use was that Natives travelling upriver, got to the falls on the Potomac, and stored their excess goods in the pits, before portaging their canoes upstream.
Yet another fascinating piece of DC Native History that goes untold at Fletchers and elsewhere in the city!
Here's a story that ran about the site in the Washington Post, Nov 1, 1998. B6.
Sunday, February 27, 2022
In the summer of 1608, when Captain John Smith and his mapmakers sailed up the Potomac to the area where Bolling Airforce Base now sits, they labeled the Piscataway tribe they found there, “Nacotchtanck.”
The proximity of this tribe to the confluence of a second river that joined with the Potomac (now “The Anacostia”) put them in a choice location to be traders, and the name Nacotchtanck was meant to mean “a town of traders.”
Within 20 years of the publication of Smith's map, Father Andrew White, who came to the colonies to convert the Natives along the Potomac in 1634, changed the name used for the tribe of traders by adding an “a” sound to beginning of the name. This led to a number of variations for the name among the other English settlers, but one of the most popular derivative forms became “Anacostan.”
White studied the Piscataway dialect of the Algonquin language, so he could preach in their native language. He noticed, as have other commentators after him (Burr, 1920; Tooker, 1894), that the word for “a town of traders,” would be "anaquashatanik" which is based on the Algonquin words, “anaquash,” meaning "to trade," and "tanik," indicating a town.
Public interest in the Native tribe of DC often starts with reference to Captain Smith's 1608 map, and it isn't hard to find citations online with the name “Nacotchtanck,” or a variation of that name, including the entry on Wikipedia (2022).
The current Wikipedia description of the origin of the Anacostan name seems to come from this statement by James Mooney in an important collection of 1899 articles on the First People of DC (Mooney, 1899):
"Nacochtank, which was the residence of a chief and contained eighty warriors, was the principal settlement within or adjoining the District. The Jesuits, who came out later with Lord Baltimore, latinized the name as Anacostan, whence we get Anacostia, the modern name of the Eastern Branch, at Washington, and of the post office at Uniontown, on its southeast bank, and perhaps also Analostan, the name of the island opposite Georgetown." p. 260.
Mooney's linguistic studies involved the Native languages of the Southwest, not Piscataway or other Algonquin languages. The one Jesuit who changed the name was Andrew White, described above. "Latinizing" the name was not his goal. In 1920, Burr gave a description of the origin of the name consistent with the Algonquin "town of traders" phrase "anaquash - tanik," made by Fr. Andrew White (Burr, 1920).
The 1894 article by Tooker, cited above, points out that Captain Smith never used the spelling from his map when he wrote about the tribe. He did use 5 other names: Nacotchtanke, Nacothtank, Nacotchtant, Nacotchtanks, and Necosts (Tooker, p. 391).
The error in the original name isn't surprising, since Algonquin languages do not have an alphabet, Smith's mapmakers couldn't just ask “how do you spell that?” Variations on the names of Native tribes are common. A 1787 document on the transcription of Native languages by English settlers includes a comment “almost every man who writes Indian words, spells them in a peculiar manner…” (Edwards, 1787).
The Native Americans weren't the only group who got their names mangled by local English speakers. For example, the Amish people who migrated from Germany and settled in Pennsylvania would have told English speakers they were “Deutsch.” Now, the Amish are commonly referred to as the “Pennsylvania Dutch.”
Since the name “Anacostia” refers to a major neighborhood and river in Washington, DC, referring to its Native tribe as the Anacostans (Tayac, 2004) pulls together these names, and helps listeners understand their association.
Bottom line: Forget the map name! Remember the Anacostans!
Mooney, James. “INDIAN TRIBES OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.”. p. 259-266.
In "The Aborigines of the District of Columbia and the Lower
Potomac - A Symposium, under the Direction of the Vice President of Section D." American
Anthropologist 2, no. 3 (1889): 225-68. http://www.jstor.org/stable/658373.
Tooker, WW. On the Meaning of the name Anacostia. Am Anthrop., os VII, 1894, pp. 389-83.
Wikipedia. Nacotchtank. November 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacotchtank
(note: The wiki spelling is not the same as seen on the map. Anacostine is a variation of Anacostan, with an added “i”, which does not occur in any of the original forms of the name.)
Wednesday, January 5, 2022
This is the portion of the 1973 application of the US National Arboretum for status as a National Historic Place:
“Most of the original, centuries-old forested landscape of the arboretum remains preserved, and evidence indicates that in past centuries the land housed Piscataway Native American habitations and, later, 19th century spring houses.”
Monday, December 6, 2021
Proudfit Identified 2 Native Village Sites Inside DC - The 2nd Seems to Be Located on the Grounds of The US National Arboretum
Saturday, November 27, 2021
NAHD 2021 Video: Where in Washington, DC Can You Learn about the History of its Native People, the Anacostans?
As a status report on the Native history of the Anacostans in DC, here is a 6 min. video that summarizes sites that exist in 2021. If any readers know of others, please be in touch!
Video link: https://youtu.be/WMA-fpiWUIo