Before the first Europeans arrived on Maryland’s shores, the land was inhabited by dozens of thriving indigenous tribes as Maryland was an important crossroads along the Atlantic coast. The tenacity of Maryland's indigenous people is profound as they overcame centuries of hardship, dispossession, genocide, and discrimination. Today indigenous heritage and cultural impact on the state of Maryland and the nation is clear,
According to Amanda Hughes of Baltimore’s Pratt Library, before European contact, the state of Maryland was shared among a few of the larger native tribes that occupied the land. The tribes were separated by regions such as the Shawnee and Ohio Valley tribes in the west, the Susquehanna in northern central Maryland, the Lenape in northeastern Maryland, the Powhatans around what is now Washington D.C., and the Choptank and Nanticoke on the eastern shore. Each of these regions were home to distinct nations which were in turn linked by greater trade networks.
The names of these regions have been revised as the different governing bodies saw fit, but the names of the tribes and their cultural impact withstood the test of time. These tribal names include Assateague, Choptank, Piscataway, Nanticoke, Susquehanna, and Powhatan. These tribes were all native inhabitants of what would become Maryland.
Hughes also notes that during the colonial and early American period, the native inhabitants of Maryland were systematically removed from their lands and relocated westward, often to Oklahoma. The first group to gain recognition from the Maryland state government was the Nanticoke Tribe in 1881. Other tribes, nations, and confederacies followed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, three tribes are formally recognized by the State of Maryland: The Accohannock Tribe, the Piscataway-Conoy Tribe, and the Piscataway Nation. The Assateague, Choptank, and Susquehanna population have substantially diminished, or their descendants have possibly been integrated into the Shawnee Tribe. The Powhatan Tribe has not been formally recognized by the state.
Of specific interest are the Piscataway-Conoy Tribe and the Piscataway Nation. These groups occupied the land upon which the Hilton Mansion of CCBC, Catonsville stands today. Before the Hilton Estate came to be, the land was known as Taylor’s Forest. As stated in the book Hilton Heritage by Bayly Ellen Marks, this name was given as it was surveyed for the merchant Thomas Taylor on March 29, 1678. As the name suggests, before Taylor, the land was filled with luscious vegetation. This fact, along with the wildlife and nearby rivers, made it a convenient hunting site for the Piscataway groups. And so it was, until the Europeans came and disrupted their way of life.
The land was forcibly taken from these groups, and ultimately deforested and converted into the Hilton Estate, on the land we now know as CCBC, Catonsville.