Native American History – Howard County Conservancy

American Indians often moved to different areas seasonally, which led to an overlap of Tribal territories.

Records show the Susquehannock Indian Tribe primarily lived in Pennsylvania and New York along the Susquehanna River. However, they also maintained a presence in Maryland’s Montgomery, Howard, Baltimore, Harford and Cecil counties. The Susquehannocks belonged to a large family of tribes known as Iroquois.

The Piscataway people also lived and moved through Howard County.

According to “Indians of Early Maryland” by Harold R. Manatee, the Susquehannocks claimed their hunting grounds stretched south through Maryland to the Patuxent River on the western shore and to the Choptank River on the Eastern Shore. They often fought against the Piscataways, Manatee wrote.

Several publications list the Susquehannock as the earliest recorded inhabitants of the Woodstock area. This area includes the land that eventually housed the Howard County Conservancy and Woodstock College, a now-closed Jesuit seminary just a few miles north of the conservancy.

In 1692, Thomas Browne was commissioned by the colonial government as a Patuxent Ranger to survey the area between the Patapsco and Patuxent Rivers (including Mt. Pleasant, home to the Howard County Conservancy) and to observe the activities of the Native Americans. The Ellicott City Bicentennial Journal, published in summer-fall 1972, states those Native Americans were part of the Susquehannock tribe.

The Woodstock Letters,” which were circulated among Jesuits and their institutions in the 19th and 20th centuries, provide additional detail.

“The Susquehannocks lived in palisaded villages along the (Susquehanna) River which bears their name. Within the walls of the village, or Connadago, ‘the houses were low and long, built with the bark of trees, arch-wise, standing thick and confusedly together.’ In the late autumn of each year, the best hunters went off into the forests where they set up temporary camps and remained for about three months until they had killed enough game to provide for the summer months. Among the animals which they hunted were bears, elk, deer, wolves and wild turkey, while streams like the Patapsco provided shad and herring.”

“In the course of these journeyings, hunters created a network of trails through the forests. Since they marched in single file, the paths were often no more than eighteen inches wide, but ‘they were the ordinary roads of the country, travelled by hunters, migrating bands, traders, embassies and war parties.’ One of the most important of the old Indian trails in Maryland crossed the Patapsco at the site of Woodstock. This was a road which probably connected the Potomac on the south with the Susquehanna and the Conestoga Path on the north and west.”

“The Susquehannocks reigned supreme in the northern part of the colony of Maryland until the latter part of the seven-teenth century … By the end of the eighteenth century, there were few Indians left in the Woodstock area. But by that time, the white settlers had already come.”

According to the state government records, the Susquehannock conducted a series of raids, skirmishes, and wars with the colony of Maryland between 1642 and 1652. The tribe signed a peace treaty in 1652, conceding much of the land from the mouth of the Susquehanna River to the colony. This treaty effectively ended the Susquehannock presence in Maryland.

The University of Maryland College Park Hornbake Library provides additional documentation of Native Americans in Woodstock. A map housed in the library’s special collections room depicts the Indian tribes of Maryland as seen by “Captain John Smith, his party of 12 men and more recent observers.” The map shows the town of Woodstock and a road or trail just to the north of the town. It also shows an Algonquin Indian site to the south of this road or trail.

The Algonquin people were present throughout Maryland and included the Piscataway tribe.


Side note:

From a June 27, 2022 post by the Haudenosaunee Nationals Development Teams: The name “Iroquois” is a French variant on a term for “snake” given to us by the Huron. It is actually a derogatory term. As many of our people lost our language through forced assimilation via government policies and residential boarding schools, the English name “Iroquois” stuck. Many researchers over the years have used the term “Iroquois” when writing about us. So when we formed a National Lacrosse Team back in 1983, we used the name “Iroquois Nationals” since that is what most people knew us by. For 39 years we have referred to our team as the “Iroquois Nationals.”

However, as our people have begun to revitalize our languages and culture, we felt it was time to change our name to what we collectively call ourselves: “Haudenosaunee” (ho-dee-no-show-nee) which translates to “People of the Longhouse.” This name change is one of a series of actions we are taking as our people continue to regain what has been lost through colonialism.

Thus, we are now called the Haudenosaunee Nationals and have begun the process of changing all touchpoints affected by our name change, including our website, social media accounts, jerseys, business cards, etc. There are a number of places, items, and products that are affected by this and it will take time to get all of them changed. In the meantime, we say “Niawen ” for your patience and support through this effort!