Indigenous peoples representing various tribal communities occupied the Patuxent River and Jug Bay areas from approximately 8,000 BC until they were pushed out by colonizing forces in the mid-17th century. Nevertheless, historians have identified it as one of the final major riverways in the state to come under the control of the English. This lush river and bay provided an ideal location for semi-permanent villages due to the abundance of wildlife and resources provided by the natural environment. In 1608, Captain John Smith particularly noted the settlements of the Acquintanacksuak, Pawtuxunt, and Mattapanient peoples.
Archaeologists have uncovered thousands of Woodland Indian artifacts, such as tools and pottery, from along the river and surrounding marshes, swamps, and forests. Visitors can learn more about the Indigenous history and culture of the area by visiting the Patuxent River Park’s American Indian Village, which features replicas of longhouses, dugout canoes, gardens, and more. The Park also hosts an annual American Indian Festival for the public. The Patuxent River flows through St. Mary’s, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s, and Anne Arundel Counties.
Image: Patuxent River (National Park Service)
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