9-20-11: Zekiah Fort
The Zekiah Fort in southern Maryland became home to the Piscataway Indians in the 17th Century. Lord Baltimore moved members of the tribe to the fortified settlement to protect them from raids by northern native American groups. It was a time when the frontier of colonial civilization was somewhere near Upper Marlboro, and native Americans outnumbered English settlers.
Archaeologists have been trying to find the location of that settlement since at least the 1930s. This summer, a team from St. Mary’s College, in partnership with the College of Southern Maryland the Smallwood Foundation, found the evidence they’ve been searching for. After examining 300-year-old land records and patents, researchers focused on a particular piece of land in Charles County – and quickly knew they were in the right spot. They found artifacts including trading beads, pottery, and tobacco pipes.
Sheilah speaks about the discovery with the leader of the dig, Julia King, a professor of anthropology at St. Mary’s College. We also hear the voice of Chief Billy Tayak, a descendent of the Piscataway. At the announcement of the discovery of the Zekiah Fort, he noted that it was the first time leaders of the Piscataway nation and the governors of Maryland had met in 350 years. The tribe worked with Julia King in identifying the artifacts her team found at the site.
Meanwhile, developer Michael Sullivan also played a role in finding the site — you can learn more about it in this web extra: