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Albert S. Cook Library

Indigenous Research

Overview: Indigenous Peoples of the Chesapeake Region

The Chesapeake Bay region was home to a great diversity of people, dating back over 10,000 years. By the 1600s, there were three major language groups in the area, the Algonquin, Iroquois, and Siouan. These language speaking communities were made up of multiple tribes. A fourth major group is the Powhatan Confederacy, which was a political alliance composed of Algonquin-speaking tribes spanning from Maryland to the Carolinas.

Tribes present in the area that would later become Maryland include: 

  • Algonquin: Annemessex, Assateague, Chaptico (Cecomocomoco), Choptank, Transquaking, Delaware (Lenni-Lenape), Doeg, Matapeake, Mattapanient, Mattawomen, Nacotchtank (Anacostan), Ozinie, Patuxent, Piscataway, Moyaone, Nanjemoy, Potapoco, Shawnee, Tockwogh, and Yoacomaco   

  • Powhatan Confederacy: Accohannock, Nentego (Nanticoke), Manokin, Wicomico, Pamunkey, and Pocomoke 

  • Iroquois: Massawomeck, Susquehannock, and Tuscarora   

  • Siouan: Tupelo and Saponi   


Today, the Chesapeake region is home to tens of thousands of people of Native descent. These individuals have diverse backgrounds and experiences; some are members of state or federally recognized tribes, while others are descendants of tribes that once lived in or migrated through the area.

State Recognized Tribes of Maryland

Today, there are 3 tribes recognized by the state of Maryland. These are the Piscataway Indian Nation, the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, and the Accohannock Indian Tribe. 

Tribes served by the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs include:

  • Accohannock Indian Tribe
  • Assateague Peoples Tribe
  • Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians
  • Piscataway Conoy Confederacy
  • Cedarville Band of Piscataway Indians
  • Piscataway Indian Nation
  • Pocomoke Indian Nation
  • Youghiogheny River Band of Shawnee Indian 

Maryland Tribal Websites