Some historians consider Choptico Manor the first Native American reservation in the United States. The 8- to 10-thousand acre territory was set aside for a handful of Indigenous groups–“the Mattapanians the Wicomocons the Patuxants the Lamasconsons the Kighahnixons and the Chopticons”–in 1651. Spearheaded by the second Lord Baltimore, Cecil Calvert, this location is also known as Calverton Manor. The plan for the allotted land was to assign 200-acre parcels to leaders of the six resident tribes, and 50 acres to each individual.
The purpose of this reservation was to bring Native peoples under the control of the colonial government, convert them to Christianity, and promote assimilation under the guise of “civility.” Over the ensuing decades, leaders of the Choptico people suffered further English encroachment, theft of land and property, and the destruction of their crops by settler cattle. By 1683, Choptico became the only Indigenous town named in “An Act for the Advancement of Trade” as a strategic trade port for European settlers. Although the historical records indicate that Choptico no longer served as an Indigenous center by the early 18th century, contemporary Piscataway community members maintain their oral histories affiliated with this location.
Image: Herrman and Thomas Withinbrook Map of Virginia Maryland 1673 (Library of Congress)
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