Although there are lots of Native American people in Maryland, many residents here are unaware that tribes can apply to be “recognized” officially by the state. Until almost 2018, the only two tribes with this status were the Piscataway Indian Nation and the Piscataway-Conoy Tribe. Enter the Accohannock.
Traditionally residing on the Eastern shore, this group of native people were one of only a few that didn’t migrate away from the area during colonialism, according to tribal historian Mike Hinman. Hinman credits their enduring connection with the land to several factors, including relationships with fur traders, Quaker colonists, and the fact that many Accohannocks “passed” for white after the development of the United States Census.
Hinman notes that Accohannock assimilation into the larger population perhaps made their application for state tribal recognition more difficult. Additionally complicating their status, the tribe’s home is located on land that used to be part of Virginia, so historical records pertaining to the Accohannock are located in Eastville, VA.
With Hinman as a major advocate, state recognition of the Accohannock tribe was eventually signed by Governor Hogan in 2017. In addition to official acknowledgement, this status grants the tribe access to apply for various grants, as well as federal recognition. Hinman says they are “tickled to death" and look forward to embracing these opportunities.