WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) released the following statement in commemoration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He joins Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and other jurisdictions across Maryland and the nation in marking this day.
“In observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we recognize and celebrate Native peoples for their essential role in American history, culture and identity. The contributions of Native peoples in public service, innovation, athletics, and the arts have defined and renewed the United States. Indigenous Americans have served in the United States Armed Forces with distinction since the American Revolution – often in greater percentages than any other population group – and continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic as healthcare professionals and emergency responders. Altogether, Native peoples represent an integral part of the United States and Maryland.
“For millennia, Maryland has been the home of indigenous peoples. Long before European contact, Native peoples established families and communities here. Indigenous populations developed unique and diverse cultures and marked places such as Assateague, the Patapsco, and Wicomico for Marylanders to recognize and cherish today. Even our beloved Chesapeake, or Chesepiooc, refers to an Algonquian village that once lived and thrived at the mouth of the Bay.
“In Western Maryland, the Massawomeck practiced commerce with settlers and other tribes, traversing trade routes from Canada to Virginia. For centuries, the Mattapanient, Patuxent, Piscataway, Moyaone, and Pamunkey peoples called the Potomac River home, constituting today’s large indigenous community in Prince George’s County. Fleeing Jim Crow discrimination, the Lumbee people moved to Baltimore’s Upper Fells Point and Washington Hill neighborhoods in search of a better future.
“Today, Native peoples continue to call Maryland home. The number of Marylanders identifying as an Indigenous person has doubled since 2010. As of 2020, 128,650 Marylanders identify as American Indian or Alaska Native. This past decade has also witnessed greater historical reflection as Marylanders reevaluate America’s past and the deeply destructive impact of colonization and forced assimilation on indigenous lives and cultures. Across the nation and state, cities like Baltimore have proudly stepped forward to proclaim Monday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“In our celebration of Native heritage and contribution, let us recognize the wrongs of our past and enact reforms. We must strive to honor tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, and rectify indigenous inequities in health, education, and employment. The United States was formed on certain ideals such as equality, entrepreneurship, dignity and self-determination. Indigenous Peoples’ Day marks a positive step towards the realization of these ideals for America’s first citizens.”