Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture
On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we recognize all of the Native American people who have lived on Delmarva, past and present. Our region has a rich indigenous history that we urge our followers to explore in our collections, especially Helen Rountree’s 1997 book “Eastern Shore Indians of Virginia and Maryland.” One story about the native Wicomico people continues to surprise people in City of Salisbury, Maryland—much of the Camden area, including the area where Salisbury University and the Nabb Center is located, was a Wicomico village/colonial-era reservation called Tondotank. The Algonquin-speaking Wighcocomoco people and their chief lived in this village when the English began to settle and the land was recognized as an “Indian-occupied” reservation by the colonial government in 1678 (rough boundaries shown on the map). Across the river, there was another smaller Wicomico village adjacent to Rokiawakin (Cottingham’s) Creek (today named Rockawalkin). According to the Lord Proprietor’s orders, the English were prohibited from settling within a three-mile-wide buffer zone around the Native American villages. However, he failed to survey the “reservations” (except for Chicone on the Nanticoke River) which left the boundaries loosely defined. Furthermore, the colonial government barred the tribes from contact with other indigenous communities, thus isolating them from potential allies. By the 1760s, the Wicomico people migrated from the region, primarily relocating to New York.