Accokeek, Maryland – The Accokeek Foundation was recently awarded $47,431 of grant funding by the National Park Service Chesapeake Gateways Office to support expanding access to Black and Indigenous narratives of the Potomac. Building on previous work to recognize and interpret the significance of Piscataway Park as an Indigenous cultural landscape, the Foundation will curate a collection of oral histories focusing on the historical and cultural relevance of the Potomac fisheries, including the environmental and cultural impacts on Black and Indigenous populations of the region.
This project's goal is to create a diverse, accurate, and widely accessible library of resources that is the basis for creating effective interpretive and educational programs throughout the region. Through this funding, the Foundation will update its library and research practices to better share the often untold parts of our history and culture by incorporating stories from the Piscataway, enslaved Africans and their descendants, afro-Indigenous groups, and other affiliated communities of the Potomac.
“Water is life, and the region’s waterways have provided ways for our community to connect through food, gathering, and recreation along the Potomac for many generations,” said Executive Director Anjela Barnes. “Cultural heritage sites in our region, including places like Piscataway Park, can do better in telling the stories of Black and Indigenous communities who not only contributed to the region’s fishing industry but whose traditional ecological knowledge can help to restore a healthy balance in the aquatic ecosystems of the Washington D.C. and Southern Maryland region.”
The research conducted during this project will inform new wayside exhibits that combine cultural traditions and history with contemporary resource challenges, ecological sustainability, and resilience initiatives to convey an Indigenous stewardship ethic. The Foundation will work with regional tribal communities, Chesapeake region watermen, riverkeepers, anthropologists, archaeologists, and heritage site partners along the Potomac to curate a collection of oral histories focusing on Black and Indigenous fishing industry workers, in their own words to inform exhibit content.
The National Park Service Chesapeake Gateways Office (NPS Chesapeake Gateways) offers competitive grant opportunities to advance the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act of 1998 within the full 41-million-acre Chesapeake Bay watershed. Chesapeake Gateways grants bring out familiar, untold, under-appreciated, or yet-to-be uncovered narratives and promote resilient communities & landscapes through tourism, sustainability, conservation & local economies throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
About the Accokeek Foundation
The Accokeek Foundation stewards 200 acres of Piscataway Park through a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service. As an anchor institution in the region, stewarding Piscataway Park for the benefit of the public since 1957, the Foundation is one of the nation’s first land trusts continuing land conservation efforts to ensure the protection of the cultural resources, and restoration of the native landscape and the sacred homeland of the Piscataway People.
The Accokeek Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to preserve and promote the cultural and natural heritage of Piscataway Park and the Piscataway people, who are the original inhabitants of the land that is now Piscataway Park. Through a Cooperative Agreement with the Interior/National Park Service, the Foundation provides a variety of services to over 100,000 visitors every year, including organizing educational programming, interpreting the people and the land, restoring and maintaining historic structures and landscapes, protecting the natural environment including the Mount Vernon viewshed, conducting research in consultation with Piscataway tribal leaders, performing public outreach, and much more.
About the National Park Service Chesapeake Gateways
Established by Congress in 1998, NPS Chesapeake Gateways is a partnership network and community assistance program. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, the office serves the full 41-million-acre Chesapeake Bay watershed, providing authentic Chesapeake experiences for 21st Century communities and visitors.