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Local History, Special Collections, and Genealogy

Indigenous History and Culture

Maryland and the Lower Eastern Shore is an area that has a rich history of Indigenous people, and several Native communities that are active today. 

Note: Due to the age or source of different items, articles, or books, different terminology may be used to refer to indigenous people of this region. It may be tricky to determine what words or terms are appropriate to use for different groups. For more information on terminology, you can visit the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian's page The Impact of Words and Tips for Using Appropriate Terminology: Am I Using the Right Word? This site gives information on different terms and names. The easiest way to find out which term is best is to ask the person or group what terms they prefer, or consult webpages or articles written by the group and see what terms they self-identify with. Each person and tribe is different, so asking directly ensures you are treating them with respect. 


Local Tribes and Groups

Some specific tribes and bands that lived in the Worcester County area are listed below, along with some resources related to the history and current activities of each group. Pronunciation guides for tribal names come from MSAC's Land Acknowledgement Project, Overview and Resource Guide.

Assateague People's Tribe

“Assateague:” æs-ʌ-tig (æ as in “bad;” ʌ as in “bud;” i as in “bead”) 

The Assateague People's Tribe lived in Worcester County, Maryland; Sussex County, Delaware; and Accomack and Northampton Counties, Virginia. The current day leadership for the tribe is based in Delaware. They are a part of the Algonquian culture and language family. In the late 1700s some tribal members moved north into Iroquoian lands, while others stayed in Delmarva.

The website for the present-day tribal group is Assateague People of Delmarva. This website includes some tribal history, information on the tribal council, upcoming events, and contact information for the tribe.

This article on The Eastern Shore Guide, The Assateague Indians: What Became of Them?, gives an overview of some history of the tribe from the 1650s to the 1740s. 


Pocomoke Indian Nation

The Pocomoke is larger Paramountcy that contains several smaller tribal bands within their group. These include the Pocomoke, Acquintica, Annemessex, Gingoteague, Manoakin, Morumsco, Nuswattux, and Quindocqua. They lived in Worcester County as well as Wicomico, Somerset, Accomack, and Sussex counties. They are a part of the Algonquian culture and language family.

“Pocomoke:” po-ko-mok (o as in “boat”)

“Acquintica:” ⍺-kwɪn-tɪ-k⍺ (⍺ as in “pod; ɪ as in “bid”)

“Annemessex:” æn-nʌ-mε-sεks (æ as in “bad;” ʌ as in “bud;” ε as in “bed;”)

“Gingoteague:” dʒɪ-ko-tig (dʒ as in “gin;” ɪ as in “bid;” o as in “boat;” i as in “bead;”)

“Manoakin:” mæ-no-kɪn (æ as in “bad;” o as in “boat;” ɪ as in “bid”)

“Morumsco:” mor-ʌm-sko (o as in “boat;” ʌ as in “bud;)

“Nuswattux:” nʌs-wæ-tʌks (ʌ as in “bud; æ as in “bad”)

“Quindocqua:” kwɪn-d⍺-kw⍺ (ɪ as in “bid;” ⍺ as in “pod;”) 


The Pocomoke Indian Nation's website contains information on the history of the tribe, photos of events, videos of traditional skills of the Pocomoke, and a calendar of upcoming public events. They often collaborate with several local organizations for events including the Delmarva Discovery MuseumHandsell House and the Chicone Village.


Accohannock Indian Tribe

æ-kꭤ-hæ-n⍺k (æ as in “bad;”⍺ as in “pod”)

The Accohannock Indian Tribe lived primarily in the Somerset, Accomack, and Northampton County areas, though their "sphere of influence" extends into parts of Western Worcester County. They are a part of the Algonquian culture and language family. They were also part of the Powhatan Empire, which during the 16th and 17th centuries was the largest empire in the region, living in areas from Maryland to South Carolina (MSAC). The Accohannock Tribe became a state recognized tribe in 2017. An article about their process of seeking recognition was published in Delmarva Now in February 2017. A follow up article on the recognition was published in December 2017. 


There are many other indigenous groups that are Native to the area of land now known as Maryland and Delmarva. Several of these tribes are listed below, along with more information to learn about these groups.

Cedarville Band of the Piscataway Indians

Choptico Band of Indians

Nanticoke Indian Association

Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians

Piscataway Conoy Tribe

Piscataway Indian Nation

Susquehannock Indians, Circle Legacy Center

Youghiogheny River Band of Shawnee Indians


Worcester County Library Resources

There are items related to different Native tribes and groups in our Archives and Special Collections.


Photographs and Archival Collections 

The Stewart Dobson Photo Collection (WR 122) consists of photographs taken by OC Today photographer Stewart Dobson. The photographs range from the 1990s to early 2000s and cover local life such as fishing tournaments, construction projects, and local parades. There are several photos in the collection of a pow-wow. The date of the event, and the tribe hosting the event are unknown. It is possible that these pictures depict the Nanticoke Pow Wow. 

The American Field Service collection (WR 84) contains photos of the Nanticoke Pow Wow held September 1983. The collection also contains a newspaper article and brochure from the event. The cover photo for this page comes from this collection. 


Vertical Files

Our vertical files contain articles, fliers, and other documents related to different topics of history and life in Worcester County. Relevant information may be found in the following files: 

  • Indians
  • Indians - Finds
  • Indians - Legends and Lore
  • Nanticoke Indians
  • Indian Town
  • Maryland - Archeology
  • Maryland - Indians
  • Maryland - Indiantown

Other pertinent information may be found in other files. These files may be viewed at the Snow Hill branch.



We have a variety of books related to Native American history and genealogy on the Eastern Shore in our Maryland collection that are available to check out, and in the Worcester Room that can be used for research in the library.

Resources at Other Maryland and Delmarva Organizations

Several Maryland organizations have been working to prevent erasure of Native communities by working with them to provide accurate historical information as well as showcasing present-day activities by the tribes. 

Maryland State Archives
  • In 2022 the archives launched a new webpage called Mayis Indigenous Records. This page showcases a database of records related to Indigenous Peoples living in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay region spanning from 1632-1800. The database allows researchers to search for terms used by Native communities and see all alternate spellings that may have been used. It also allows you to search for tribes, people, places, things, or actions (such as trade or legal cases). The site also links to resources from the tribal communities, other Maryland organizations, and more.
  • The archives has additional information on their page in the Maryland Manual called Maryland at a Glance - Native Americans. This includes an alphabetical list of many tribes or nations that lived in Maryland and a brief description of each group.
Maryland State Arts Council
  • One of the resources made available by the MSAC is a page on Land Acknowledgements. The council consulted several Maryland tribes and worked with them to create Land Acknowledgement Statements that are personal to each tribe and represents their relationship to the lands, their history, and their unique experiences. The page also includes a Project Overview and Resource Guide which features best practices for using land acknowledgements, histories of each tribe, maps showcasing the areas of influence for each group, and resources used to make the histories and guide. 
  • They also worked with the Maryland Traditions staff to produce two webinars on how to use land acknowledgements and how to work with local tribes beyond creating land acknowledgements. These can be found here and here
Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs
  • The Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs is a commission under the Governor's Office of Community Initiative that serves to promote awareness and understanding of Native Americans in Maryland, to aid in the process of state or federal recognition, and to provide resources to Native American communities in Maryland.
  • Their website includes minutes from public meetings, information about events and programs, and annual reports. 
Maryland Office of Tourism
  • The tourism office's page Maryland American Indian Sites and Experiences highlights 23 sites of interest in Maryland that are related to Native Americans. While none are located in Worcester County, many are on the Eastern Shore. 
  • They also have an article called "The First Marylanders" giving a very brief overview of some Indigenous history.
Enoch Pratt Free Library
Baltimore American Indian Center
  • The Baltimore American Indian Center was founded in 1968 to support growing populations of American Indian and Native families moving to the Baltimore area. Over time, they shifted their goals to prioritize cultural preservation programming and educating the non-native community. The BAIC was founded by members of the Lumbee Tribe, but welcome and support people from all Native tribes and nations. They also have a museum which includes exhibits, a garden with plants important to the Native peoples, and educational events.
Chesapeake Bay Program
Common Sense Eastern Shore

An online magazine, Common Sense Eastern Shore includes articles from writers on the Eastern Shore about a variety of topics. Some of these highlighting the Indigenous communities are listed below. 

Edward H. Nabb Research Center
Guide to Indigenous Maryland 
  • Guide to Indigenous Maryland is a webpage and app created by the Maryland State Library Agency, the Prince George's County Memorial Library System, and project curator Dr. Elizabeth Rule to feature locations in Maryland that are important to the Indigenous community. There is a map highlighting locations across Maryland, with a description of its historical and cultural significance. It is unfortunately quite focused on the Western Shore, but it is possible that more sites related to the Eastern Shore may be added.
  • There are also links to other resources from tribal nations, cultural organizations, and libraries; videos of related events and more. 
  • Dr. Elizabeth Rule has also created a Guide to Indigenous DC and a Guide to Indigenous Baltimore.
  • A virtual panel discussion, Examining and Interpreting Native and Indigenous History, was made as part of this project, and is available to watch on YouTube.
    • The Prince George's County Memorial Library System has several other videos related to Native American and Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month. These include crafts and book recommendations. Those videos can be found here
Handsell House and the Chicone Village
  • Handsell House, a historic site in Dorchester County, has been working with local Indigenous communities to have an accurate history of the Native people from the area. They have built a longhouse and a Native garden, to help show how the Eastern Woodland Native People of Delmarva would live. They host events such as Chicone Village Day and the Nanticoke River Jamboree where interpreters and representatives from local tribes help celebrate and educate guests on their history and culture. 
  • More information on the Nanticoke River Jamboree can be found on its official website.
National Parks Service - Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
University of Maryland Libraries
Miscellaneous Books and Articles

General Resources

Beyond Maryland there are also national and regional organizations sharing information on Native Americans as a whole, or information that may still be relevant to research on the Native peoples of Worcester County and Delmarva. 

Family Search
  • This genealogical website has a guide on Indigenous Peoples of Maryland, which includes a brief overview of different tribes, and tips on where to find records from different regions or time periods. They also have a more general guide, which includes information on how to start your research, types of records you may encounter, and more.
National Archives
  • There are many American Indian and Alaska Native Records in the National Archives. These can be viewed by topic, such as Military Service Records, Photographs, or Tribal Rolls; Federal Agency, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Claims Commission, or Indian Health Service. 
  • The Maryland Native Communities Research Guide on their website gives tips on which search terms to use to find information on different Maryland Native tribes in the National Archives catalog search bar. This is not a comprehensive list of Native communities in Maryland, but of which records are available through the National Archives.
  • There are several other Research Guides available on their website including Introductions to research, guides to certain record groups, and information on records at each National Archives location.
  • The US National Archives YouTube channel has a series of videos called Know Your Records: Native American Records, that highlight how you can use their records in genealogical research on Native ancestors and family members. 
  • The National Archives has several blogs and online magazines which have articles related to different records and historical topics. A list of online publications related to American Indian and Alaska Native Records can be found here. 
National Museum of the American Indian
National Parks Service
Native Languages of the Americas

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