Native American Heritage in Anne Arundel County

March 29, 2024

The Chesapeake Crossroads Heritage Area includes unique places that reflect our Native American Heritage, including ongoing archeological investigations that County archaeologists are working hard to interpret and share.

Starting Point

Your starting-point to learn about the Native American heritage of our County should be a new online resource developed by our partners at the Lost Towns Project Inc., with support from a Chesapeake Crossroads Heritage Area Mini-Grant. It is entitled, Native American Archaeology in Anne Arundel County, Maryland: A Heritage Toolbox. Another important resource is the Native American Heritage Resource from Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Section, Department of Planning & Zoning. The tribal groups who live or lived in the heritage area are the Piscataway, Patuxent, Mattapanient (Mattaponi), Nacotchtank (Anacostan), and Susquehannock people.

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary Complex

The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary Complex is the richest site in our County for Native American heritage. Within a surprisingly small area, there are deeply stratified and relatively untouched archaeological sites representing 13,000 years of human occupation. Dozens of unique archaeological sites have been recorded and studied in the sanctuary and its partner properties, including the Glendening Nature Preserve and the Nature Preserve at Waysons Corner. These sites have yielded stone tools, decorative pottery, finely honed projectile points, and evidence of subsistence, trade, and ancient social structures. The study of these sites provides a small but highly significant window into the rich Native American presence that dominated this area for millennia before Europeans arrived. The densely packed heritage sites in and around Jug Bay, and along the Patuxent River, provide exciting potential for visitors, students, and citizens to explore the legacy and places where Native Americans lived for some 13,000 years.

Exhibits & Attractions

Sites such as the Benson-Hammond House and Kuethe Library offer additional public venues for interpretation and exhibition of prehistoric artifacts, adding another means by which visitors can engage with Anne Arundel County’s Native American heritage.

The Museum of Historic Annapolis at 99 Main Street by City Dock shares the story of the earliest people in this region before the arrival of Europeans in the 1600s.  Algonquian-speaking Native American people made seasonal camps along the Severn River. Artifacts exhibited in the Museum that illustrate this story include projectile points, a grooved axe, and pottery sherds. They provide clues to the seasonal movements and activities of these Native Americans for thousands of years in this region including fishing and hunting. Some of the artifacts date as far back as 3000 BCE.

A new exhibit at Historic London Town and Gardens describes the native people living in the area at the time of Colonial settlement. Read more about the Piscataway Exhibit.

In a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center‘s Woodlawn  History Center, artifacts tell the story of Native American use of this site as hunting and fishing grounds — as the original occupants of what is now SERC — along with the broader history of Native Americans in Maryland from prehistory through colonial contact, and continued story to the present day.