Mayis /Mah yees/
Mayis means "a path; to go on" in Renape /deh nah pea/. The Renape dialect, as well as the Nanticoke and the Unami Lenape were dialects of the Algonquian language family spoken historically on Maryland’s Delmarva Peninsula. Mayis is a web resource created as a path to guide researchers to records in the Maryland State Archives (MSA) about the Indigenous peoples of the Chesapeake Bay region. Our team designed this site to help to shine a light on this significant and complicated history of colonization and conflict. It is our hope that American Indians of the twenty-first century and their allies will use this tool to better educate all of us about the first people living in the region (before Europeans arrived).
This website is dedicated to the memory of archivist Phebe Robinson Jacobsen (1922-2000), who deeply respected the Indigenous peoples whose history is interconnected with the State of Maryland. Phebe’s research files formed the foundation of this web resource, leaving a legacy for archivists to follow. She committed herself to helping all people of all backgrounds find their ancestry. Over the course of her Archives career, she spent countless hours researching historic records for evidence concerning the Native people of the Chesapeake. Later, in her retirement, Phebe served as a commissioner on the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, which advocates for the needs of the Indigenous communities in Maryland.
Thank you to the volunteer researchers who have made this resource possible: Iris Afantchao, Natalie DeMuro, William H. Frederick III, Elenora Hyde, Theana Kastens, Rachael Kirschenmann, Kitri Post, and C. S. Treadwell. Thank you also to MSA Staff.
Summer 2023 Intern: Autumn Powell (Diné and Naahiłií)
Fall 2023 Intern: Ame Schimminger
The Mayis audio recording above was generously donated by Drew Shuptar-Rayvis, Pekatawas MaKaTaWai’U , Black Corn, Cultural Ambassador of the Pocomoke Indian Nation.
The Beaded Maryland Flag
This beaded Maryland flag shown above was created by Bearclaw, of the Cherokee Nation, who lives in Harford County, Maryland. It was presented to the Secretary of State on November 28, 2008, in honor of Maryland’s establishment of American Indian Heritage Day.
Respectful Online Access
This website strives to provide respectful access to records related to Indigenous Peoples and communities of the Chesapeake region. These materials are being presented as recorded in the government records held by the Maryland State Archives. They reflect the time at which the record was created. In accordance with the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, we want to make users aware that “offensive language or other injurious perspectives and information may be inherent in the content of some of the original materials.” For information on the Maryland State Archives commitment to equitable descriptive practices, please read the Inclusiveness in Cataloging Statement.
We welcome feedback from community members with concerns regarding online public access.
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