Maryland’s public libraries, under the auspices of the Maryland State Library Agency (MSLA) and Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS), announce the beta launch of the Guide to Indigenous Maryland mobile app (iOS and Android) and website (IndigenousMD.info). This new, free educational resource provides an engaging entry point for Marylanders of all ages to learn about the history of local Native and Indigenous peoples. The Guide leads users on a tour of 21 curated sites throughout Maryland that reflect how Native American and Indigenous heritage is an integral part of local history and contemporary life. Sites range from the Bald Friar Ford Petroglyphs in Harford County and Piscataway Park in Prince George’s County to the Askiminokonson Indian Town in Worcester County. Tribal communities represented include the Piscataway, Pocomoke, Moyaone, Nanticoke, Chicone, and more.
Developed between November 2021 and June 2022, Guide to Indigenous Maryland is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Maryland State Library Agency, the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, and Maryland’s community of public library systems. The Guide was curated by Dr. Elizabeth Rule, Assistant Professor, American University. Dr. Rule is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and is renowned nationally as a leading proponent of engaging the general public with the Native and Indigenous heritage of local communities. She previously developed and launched a Guide to Indigenous DC and Guide to Indigenous Baltimore.
The sites currently featured in the Guide are drawn from over 125 sites that were submitted to the project curator and task force through an open public call for crowdsourced submissions. Sites recommended by representatives of local tribal organizations were prioritized in the curatorial process and the Guide samples historical sites and markers, culturally significant natural landmarks, artistic works that honor local Native American and Indigenous Heritage, and more. The Guide does not aim to provide a comprehensive overview of local sites, but rather a sampling to encourage further exploration.
“Maryland’s libraries were honored to support and facilitate the development of this engaging new resource, which will inspire Marylanders to deepen their understanding of and respect for the Native American and Indigenous peoples whose lands we inhabit,” said Roberta Phillips, CEO of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System. “As a community, we need projects like Guide to Indigenous Maryland to help correct the erasure of local Indigenous culture that has occurred since European settlers arrived in the Mid-Atlantic region.”
The project task force includes representatives from Maryland’s 24 public library systems, tribal nations, statewide cultural heritage organizations, and Maryland State Archives. Troi Madison Newman, a Black and Indigenous artist and enrolled citizen of the Piscataway Nation, is the Guide to Indigenous Maryland project artist. Her design for the Guide, which features a terrapin, colors that reflect local tribal heritage, and Maryland’s state flag, “embodies a minimalist concept with Maryland influence and the various indigenous communities” who call these lands home. Community members are invited to utilize the Guide and share feedback at IndigenousMD.info. This feedback will help guide enhancements to the Guide over the coming months.
The public is invited to attend a special statewide virtual event to celebrate the launch of Guide to Indigenous Maryland, “Examining and Interpreting Native American and Indigenous Heritage,” on Monday, June 20 at 7 pm. Part of the Maryland Libraries Together series, Dr. Elizabeth Rule moderates a panel of historians, scholars, and nationally-recognized Native American and Indigenous leaders who will discuss approaches to respectfully engaging with history in order to promote greater awareness of Native and Indigenous heritage in the United States. Guests include Kyle T. Mays, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, University of California, Los Angeles; Author, “An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States; Saginaw Anishinaabe), Ashley Minner, Ph.D. (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina; Artist; Assistant Curator for History and Culture, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian), Rico Newman (Elders Council, Choptico Band of Piscataway Indians), and Norris Howard Jr (Leader, Pocomoke Nation). Free, registration required (pgcmls.info/events). ASL interpretation and captions will be available.