Native Americans Before Colonization

Colonial Illustration
Praying around the fire with rattles

London Town was located on the South River, one of the Chesapeake Bay's many tributaries. Over the years, the South River witnessed incredible ecological changes. The river provided food for a variety of animals and humans who lived, hunted, and fished along its shores.

Long before the colonists arrived, Native Americans lived in Maryland and the Potomac basin. Between 900 and 1500, some of these people came to rely less on foraging and more on farming. After the start of the “Little Ice Age” that began around 1300, Iroquoian peoples from the north invaded the Potomac River basin. Many of the original inhabitants moved away. Those who remained had to change their cultures. Independent villages united into coalitions of villages under one leader to whom all paid tribute, a kind of tax. Some villagers became more powerful and important than others. Organized in coalitions, Native Americans were better able to resist the newcomers from Europe. The Piscataway, Nanticoke, Accohannock, and Potomac were among the native peoples who lived in the region.

This project was developed through a Teaching American History Grant partnership between Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Historic London Town and Gardens.