Choptank tribe

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Choptank
Total population
Extinct as a tribe
Regions with significant populations
Eastern Shore of Maryland
Languages
Nanticoke
Religion
Native religion
Related ethnic groups
Nanticoke, Delaware

The Choptank Indian Tribe was an Algonquian-speaking Native American tribe that historically lived on the Eastern Shore of Maryland on the Delmarva Peninsula. They occupied an area along the lower Choptank River basin,[1] which included parts of present-day Talbot, Dorchester and Caroline counties.[2] The river emptied into the Chesapeake Bay. They spoke Nanticoke, an Eastern Algonquian language closely related to Delaware.[3][4]

The Choptank were the only Indians on the Eastern Shore to be granted a reservation in fee simple by the English colonial government.[5] They retained the land until 1822, when the state of Maryland sold it, in part to pay for the state's share of the District of Columbia.

History[edit]

The name Choptank is thought to be from the Nanticoke language, the word tshapetank (a stream that separates)[6] or (place of big current).[7]

The Algonquian-speaking Choptank were independent, but they were related in culture and language to the Nanticoke, the larger paramount chiefdom immediately to their south, which was dominant on the Eastern Shore.[8] After the arrival of English colonists, the tribes' histories took different paths. The Choptank maintained good relations with the European settlers. Eventually they were assimilated into the mainstream society through intermarriage. Like many other small tribes, they ceased to exist as a separate entity, although their descendants survive.

The only Indian reservation which the English established in fee simple on the Eastern Shore was the Choptank Indian Reservation in 1669.[9] The territory included what later became the city of Cambridge,[10] the county seat of Dorchester County. The last town in Dorchester County occupied by the Choptank was Locust Neck Indian Town, which they left about 1790.[11]

In 1822 the state of Maryland sold off the land of the reservation for development. The state used some of the proceeds to pay its share of contribution to the formation of the District of Columbia.[12]

The U.S. Navy tugboat Choptank was named after the tribe. It served from 1918 until 1946.[13] The towns of Choptank, Maryland and Choptank Mills, Delaware[14] are named after the river.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Choptank River Basin", Dept of Natural Resources, Maryland, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  2. ^ Wayne E. Clark, "Indians in Maryland, an Overview", Maryland Online Encyclopedia', 2004-2005, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  3. ^ Nanticoke Language, Native Languages of the Americas, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  4. ^ Nanticoke Tribe, Native Languages of the Americas, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  5. ^ Wayne E. Clark, "Indians in Maryland, an Overview", Maryland Online Encyclopedia', 2004-2005, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  6. ^ Terry Plowman, "Native Americans of Delmarva", Delmarva Millennium, Vol. 1, 1999, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  7. ^ Choptank River Basin, Dept of Natural Resources, Maryland, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  8. ^ Wayne E. Clark, "Indians in Maryland, an Overview", Maryland Online Encyclopedia', 2004-2005, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  9. ^ Wayne E. Clark, "Indians in Maryland, an Overview", Maryland Online Encyclopedia', 2004-2005, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  10. ^ Cambridge Historical Marker
  11. ^ "Lower Choptank River Historic Site", Choptank and Tuckahoe River Guide, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  12. ^ Federal Writers Project, Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State, New York: Oxford University Press, 1940, accessed 18 Mar 2010
  13. ^ "Choptank" - Naval History
  14. ^ Placenames - Choptank Mills, Kent County, Delaware, U.S.A.