Nanticoke (American Indians Ready Reference)
The Nanticoke originally inhabited the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay along the Nanticoke River in Maryland. Culturally, they were closely associated with surrounding Algonquian-speaking groups such as the Conoys. Unfortunately, only a few details survive about traditional lifeways. Men hunted and fished, and women practiced maize horticulture. The Nanticoke were adept at the production of shell beads for peake (wampum) and at the processing of furs. A hereditary chief ruled over several villages and, with elders, formed an upper social stratum. Individuals traced their ancestry through women. The Nanticoke buried their dead in ossuaries (mass graves) after lengthy interment in aboveground mortuary structures.
Sustained contact with white settlers began after 1608. By the early eighteenth century, the Nanticoke had suffered greatly from disease and from harassment by colonists. To lessen conflicts, they agreed to live on two reservations along the Nanticoke, known as Broad Creek and Chicacoan. This greatly reduced their territory and limited their ability to support themselves. During this period, the Nanticoke became tributaries of the powerful Five Nations of the Iroquois of New York.
By the mid-1700's, because of further interference by colonists, the Nanticoke petitioned the Iroquois for protection. Several hundred migrated to Iroquois territory in Pennsylvania before regrouping at Otsiningo, near present-day Binghamton, New York. By...
(The entire section is 346 words.)
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