CHARLES COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — After decades of struggle, a Native American tribe in Maryland is no longer extinct.

Alex DeMetrick reports the Piscataway-Conoy tribe knew it was here all along. Now the state finally agrees.

One of the oldest Catholic graveyards in the country overlooks the Port Tobacco River in Charles County, land once home to the Piscataway-Conoy tribe.

“We supposedly died out in 1699. We couldn’t figure out how did everyone die,” said Tribal chairwoman Mervin Savoy.

Actually, Savoy’s father and her mother started the quest for tribal recognition 40 years ago. This week, after decades of paperwork and document hunts, Governor Martin O’Malley made it official: the Piscataway-Conoys are a living tribe.

“After 40 years, it is amazing,” Savoy said.

The proof of the tribe’s past and its ongoing existence came from records kept by the Catholic Church. That’s because the tribe converted in 1640, an event remembered with a stained glass window at Saint Ignatius and detailed record-keeping by Jesuit priests.

“So therefore, we have proof we were on this land when the Europeans arrived in Charles County,” said Elder Council Chair Sharon Franklin.

“We’ve always been here. We never left,” Savoy said.

Proof of existence they never doubted. And now, with Maryland’s recognition…

 “Those that we leave behind, it’s a great thing for them,” Franklin said.

State recognition doesn’t mean the tribe will be opening a casino. There’s no interest in that. But it could open the door to federal recognition and funds set aside for education and health care.

Comments (21)
  1. bananafish6726 says:

    So, how much do they plan to shake us down for?

    1. Liz Laguerre says:

      Long Over Do Un Paid Rent Food & Lodging Since 1492 Genius

  2. Warren Scott says:

    WOW is that the first thing you can think of to say. These people may have better jobs than you as far as you know, All Native Americans are not on government benefits just like all white and blacks are not on them and don’t want to be on it if they don’t have to be.

  3. Nora Rich says:

    @ bananafish: Shame on you. How much did your ancestors shake down their ancestors for?

  4. Shelli says:

    Good for them! Good, good, good for them! I think the least that we can do is turn over all of Charles County to them. Every state should alot at least on county to the Native Americans.

  5. proudwife of braveheart says:

    To those prejudging everyone involved without even having any facts: These people were here before any of your ancestors decided to leave where they were born for the land of their future. Before throwing stones….better check those entry papers. My husband is now retired from a job that had him not able to go within so many feet of a border because our government was afraid he would be kidnapped for his knowledge. His ancestors came from this tribe. Not asking for handouts.

    1. ulysses says:

      Proudwife, …Dinosaurs were here before man also & look what happened to them.
      Fuc the drunks.

      1. Haters are funny says:

        Ulysses, I wonder why you didn’t die off with the rest of the dinosaurs? Freak of nature, I guess.

  6. Christopher Ty Simmons says:

    I am happy for them, however, at the same time I will be highly ticked off if they get federally recognized before the Lumbee tribe. Been fighting that battle for over 60 plus years.

  7. Rico says:

    Why don’t you tell us how you really feel. By the way the name is Odysseus genius.

  8. tonto says:

    Ulysses – watch what you say about the only true Native Americans. And they were here before anyone else – had their land taken from them and were practically killed off. The ones that remained ended up on reservations – which turned them into drunks. Muslim people have more rights in this country than the original Americans did. They were people that lived off of the land – read a history book.

  9. Toni Dorvitt says:

    Excuse me. These people have NEVER been extinct. They have only been unrecognized as a tribe. I know many of them. Danced with many of them at powwows. They didn’t look even a tiny bit extinct to me.

  10. pigeon says:

    One down in Maryland and another to go! I am happy for them – about time. For those of you who want to grumble, moan and complain about this – just look at what we “Europeans” did to those people and ALL other Native American tribes – shame on the “white man”. How dare anyone to comment that they were “turned into drunks”; that just is not the truth or the case – you need to go back and study your history. It is not nice to shake hands and stick a knife in their back at the same time.

  11. Awesome says:

    As an American with ancestors that we’re native American, original settlers and eauropean immigrants, I can honestly say… GREAT! I’m super happy that this group of people is being recognized by the current governing body.

    I think it is interesting to see a really good example of what can happen to a culture when a religious organization has the authority to metaphorically “kill them off”. Can you imagine having your whole community, with all it’s history and traditions, completely dissolved because a religious group with better weapons and a greater population doesn’t recognize it? A group that does that in this day and age would be considered intellectually inferior and frankly, barbaric.

  12. Artemis says:

    It all comes down to that we are brothers and sisters under the great plan
    of GOD almighty. It has been said either learn to get along in this life and look
    forward to eternal peace in heaven or continue your selfishness in Hell.

    No one should be denied their heritage, but most of all we are all Americans
    who believe in stomping out oppression.

  13. chetta-ketta says:

    Indians & Blacks share the same deal. Both cry for handouts & play the race card & the sympathy vote that liberal white feel guilty a-hole suburbanites fall for every time.
    Face it, neither group has ever shown a willingness to assimilate into society & they have more opportunities than whites.

    1. Toni Dorvitt says:

      chetta-ketta, why should Indians have to assimilate? Assimilation involves walking away from your traditions and culture and adopting those of the dominant culture.

      We can keep our traditions and cultures and accommodate. Whether you like it or not, we live in a diverse state and diverse nation. The Pisacataway were here long before the Europeans came to our shores. I belong to a different tribal nation, and personally, I’m not sure I would like to be a part of your all-or-nothing society.

    2. the OG Keeta says:

      chetta-ketta, I hope you feel the same way when the hundreds of thousands of illegal Mexican immigrants that are streaming into the US every day take over your neighborhood. LOL!!! Good luck with your assimilation! 😀

      1. chetta-ketta says:

        Go fuc yourself.

  14. KID PISCATAWAY says:

    chetta-ketta thats my father and mother ,dad would always say._ _ _ _ _ _ have two homes we have ONE:go visit it for awhile HINT HINT,and as for the mexican? who made them ILLEGAL ? .i agree with Obama ,give the land back .TO ALL THE BRYAN FISCHER’s OUT THERE ,no we don’t wont to be your overlords,we just don”t want you here

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