On July 20, 2016 dozens of parents and kids joined the Living the American Indian Experience team in a fun-filled hour of song, dance, and education at the Calvert Library in Prince Frederick.
The well-known “Kentkatám means “Let’s Dance!”’ event is a fun educational opportunity of the Piscataway people and the appreciation of their culture. Participants took a cultural journey through social dances while members of the Piscataway Nation shared their history in an interactive way.
The event Wednesday was a fantastic step towards a community of cultural competency, and a whole lot of fun!
Ariale Stromberg brought her four year old daughter and her friends to this fun-filled event. “Her and her friends love the library. I think the library is one of the best resources in Calvert County for kids and activities. We come every Wednesday for the summer events to just spend time at the library.”
The Calvert Library in Prince Frederick hosts several kid-friendly events every week during the summer as a part of their “7 Weeks of Summer Fun” program.
“We have about three weeks left”, said Beverly Allyn Izzi, youth service coordinator at the library, “I like to have a variety of programs to expose our kids to a little bit of everything!”
The room was filled with giggles, squiggles and cheers as parents and their children made wonderful memories while dancing and singing together.
In between dances the children sat at attention as Natalie Chaokikupu Proctor, tribal chair, taught new words in the Algonquin language (Natalie also noted this was the very first language of Maryland). Natalie also provided details to everyone in the room on the Piscataway way of life.
Natalie Chaokikupu Proctor is an advocate for human rights for indigenous peoples and appreciates the opportunity to teach children to break down stereotypes and replace them with new and true perceptions. “Many people probably didn’t know any indigenous people still exist here. The school system and Hollywood have done a lot of damage on the perception of life and culture of the indigenous people. We have become an invisible people, and because of that, we have the highest rate of suicide. Nine years and younger is the age group most at risk of a suicide attempt. This could be because they feel invisible, or as if they do not have a voice or a culture. We can make a difference by learning other cultures and coming together. I took this opportunity to teach that culture is not just buying and selling items, but much deeper.”
The Piscataway Indian Nation is a state-recognized tribe in Maryland for being descendants of the historic Piscataway tribe.
The Piscataway Indian Nation are Native Americans, once being the most populous and powerful Native communities of the Chesapeake Bay region. The Piscataway tribe spoke Algonquian Piscataway, a dialect of Nanticoke. At the time of early European encounter, the tribe claimed a large territory on the north side of the Potomac River.
The Piscataway nation declined dramatically before the nineteenth century due to the influence of colonization, infectious disease, and intertribal and colonial warfare. Eventually, the Piscataway tribe merged with of their neighboring tribes called the Conoy after a massive decline of population following two centuries of interactions with European settlers.
On January 12, 2012, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley issued an Executive Order recognizing both the Piscataway Indian Nation and the Piscataway Conoy Tribe as Indian groups under a process established by the General Assembly.
To learn more about the cool programs the Calvert Library is hosting the rest of the summer, visit the Calvert Library website at http://calvert.lib.md.us/. Please enjoy the picture gallery below.
Chanel Underwood / Calvert Beacon Intern