Present-day Mattawoman Creek takes its name from the historic Mattawoman community that resided in villages and towns along the waterway. Nevertheless, various Indigenous groups in addition to the Mattawoman frequented this area prior to and in the immediate aftermath of European colonization. For instance, Mattawoman Creek also outlined, in conjunction with Piscataway Creek, the boundaries of lands that were set aside for the establishment of an Indian reservation in the late 1660s which would have been heavily occupied by Piscataways. The Algonquian word, “Mattawoman,” roughly translates to, “a place to go to quietly,” which may reflect its significance as a ceremonial center. Preservation Maryland, a non-profit organization, listed Mattawoman as an endangered Indigenous landscape in 2013 due to drainage from surrounding development and local urbanization.
Image: Mattawoman Creek’s tidal estuary to the Potomac River, Charles County, Maryland, U.S.A. (Nemophylla/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)
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