The Patuxent were one of the Native American tribes living along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. They spoke an Algonquian language and were loosely dominated by the Piscataway.
They were among the first people taught by Andrew White. Probably the first European to express appreciation of the river was Capt. John Smith, who sailed into the Patuxent River in 1608, as he wrote: “On the west side of the Bay were five faire and delightful navigable rivers the fifth river is called Pawtuxent.” Capt. Smith may have been the first European to admire the river, but the Algonquians migrated here 2,000 years ago. Capt. Smith noted 17 Indian villages along the Patuxent River. English historians asserted that the Indians were not very settled, but - as asserted by archaeologist Wayne Clark - they actually had extensive agricultural fields and raised corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and tobacco: when the English came there in 1634 to grow tobacco - according to Mr. Clark - the Indian ‘old fields’ were much in demand because they were already cleared. As European settlements grew and tobacco plantations took over, the Indians moved on. By 1672, most Pawtuxent Indians lived on 700 acres of land set aside for them by Lord Baltimore near where Waysons Corner is today, and in 1692, the last of the tribes left the reservation and joined another tribe in Chaptico, on the Potomac side of Maryland. (The Indians who will set up a typical Eastern Woodland Indian village at Patuxent River Appreciation Days are from the Mattaponi Indian tribe in Virginia.)