Representatives of the Accohannock Tribe at an executive order ceremony at the State House in Annapolis, Maryland, on December 19, 2017. Photo: Tom Napp / Maryland GovPics
Federal Recognition

Accohannock Tribe faces questions about legitimacy in Maryland




The Accohannock Tribe has gained recognition in the state of Maryland but not everyone is happy about it.

The tribe's first attempt at recognition in 2010 failed, The Baltimore Sun reported. It was accepted last year after the submission of new evidence, including genealogy compiled through ancestry.com, the paper said.

But some historians, experts and other Native Americans have doubts. They believe the Accohannock are hijacking other tribes' histories and question whether the Accohannock are connected to a historic Indian nation, the paper reported.

“When a group gets recognized, it’s going to be put in textbooks, it’s going to be put in lesson plans for the curriculum of the public schools,” Chief Norris Howard of the Pocomoke Nation, which lacks state or federal recognition, told the paper. “To me, that’s a lie.”


Critics also wonder how the Accohannock were supposedly able to survive on Maryland's Eastern Shore for centuries without drawing much attention to their community.

“People who actually behave as a tribe have many more relationships with one another than with outsiders,” anthropologist Helen Rountree, whose research was cited in the Accohannock petition, told the paper. “And the outsiders are going to notice that kind of thing.”

Accohannock Tribe in Maryland

Lt. Gov. Accohannock EO
Maryland GovPics: Accohannock Tribe Executive Order

State recognition came through an executive order in December 2017. It has no immediate bearing on federal recognition but it entitles the tribe and its citizens to market their goods as "Indian" under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, a federal law. Some federal laws are also open to state recognized tribes.

The "Accohannock Indian Tribal Association, Inc" submitted a letter of intent to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1995 but does not appear to have advanced further in the process.

Maryland's other recognized tribes are the Piscataway Conoy Tribe and the Piscataway Indian Nation. Both were acknowledged by a prior governor in 2012.

Read More on the Story:
Maryland recognition of Accohannock tribe sparks debate within community of Native Americans (The Baltimore Sun February 10, 2018)

Related Stories:
Accohannock Tribe gains recognition through executive order in Maryland (December 21, 2017)