Indigenous Cultural Landscapes on the Chesapeake

Diana Ziegler: Good afternoon, welcome to
this month’s Lunchtime Lecture Series brought to you by the Department of the Interior Museum.
My name’s Diana Ziegler, the director of Interior Museum, and it’s my pleasure to welcome you
here today. This ongoing series is a chance for us to
highlight the very diverse, the varied workings of the Department of Interior. Next month
we’ll be hosting the Bureau of Rec lamation Director talking about 200 years of reclaiming
mining areas, and the effect of 200 years of mining on the landscape and environment. This
month, happy to be presenting the National Park Service, focusing on park service and
their work with indigenous cultural landscapes on the Chesapeake.
Chuck Hunt has been the superintendent for the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay program
since September of 2013. With over 20 years of experience with the Department of the Interior,
Chuck Hunt has most recently served as the Regional Director for the Western Europe,
for the American Battle of Monuments Commission, the ABMC, where he managed 23 geographically
dispersed sites in France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Belgium.
Prior to becoming the Regional Director, Hunt managed the Normandy American Visitor Center
in France, also part of the ABMC. Hunt’s previous National Park Service experience includes
assignments as superintendent of Fort Davis National Historical Site from 2006 to 2009,
management assistant at the Big Thicket National Preserve, and legislative affairs specialist
in Washington, DC. Additionally, Hunt has served as a special
assistant within the Department of the Interior, where he provided support to The Clean Water
Action Plan, the Healthy Rangelands Initiative, the California Desert Managers Group, and
establishment of the resource advisory councils across the Western United States.
Hunt has also held numerous positions with the Bureau of Land Management, and served
on Senator Jeff Bingaman’s staff working on energy and natural resource issues. Hunt began
his career as a presidential management intern serving the Bureau of Land Management, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency.
Please join me in welcoming Chuck Hunt. [applause]
Chuck Hunt: Good afternoon, everybody. I’m glad to see so many people here. This topic
is very important to us in the Chesapeake Bay office, but it’s not accessible to everybody.
Everybody may not understand readily what an indigenous cultural landscape is. Suzanne
Copping of my staff and I are going to talk a little bit about that. Thank you for being
here. As an introductory remark, my office manages
the John Smith Trail. I’m going to talk about that in just a minute. One of the things we
struggled with is, how to make sure we tell the American Indian side of the story in a
more sophisticated way than perhaps we have in the past. Our goal with the indigenous
cultural landscapes, I’m going to call them ICLs henceforth ICL is an indigenous cultural
landscape is to look at the landscape in a way that is not just driven by archaeology.
Archaeology is such a uni dimensional approach to understanding the significance of the American
landscapes, particularly when it comes to American Indians and sites that are important
to them. Our goal with the methodology of the ICLs was to have a process that’s fed
by numerous sources of information, including I think this is very important including the
descendant communities that can provide insight why certain landscapes are important to them.
Having that connection to modern day tribes is critical, because in our eyes, these landscapes
aren’t just an important part of their past, they’re also an important part of their future,
and an important part of the American future. I will get into the presentation. The John
Smith Trail was established in 2006. We completed the initial planning base, the conference
of management plan in 2011. In 2012, the trail was extended. A number of the rivers, all
the way up the Susquehanna, all the way to Cooperstown.
The driving force behind the extension was that the proponents of the trail, the supporters
of the trail, wanted to make sure the American Indian story was just as important as the
John Smith story. By extending the trail to reflect the cultural connectivity across the
landscape, where American Indians were part of that connection. It wasn’t just John Smith
finding them. In some cases, American Indians found him. It provides for a much richer,
more complete story. John Smith’s journals. John Smith was a remarkable
individual. He was probably one of the first ethnographers to work the American landscape.
There were some before him, but he was very prolific in terms of his journals, his geography,
his maps that he left behind, a sort of a cartographer, ethnographer, explorer. Very
remarkable individual. His journals leave behind very colorful stories that…of course
they’re through the European lens, so we take them as that.
But they’re primary source, and they’re important in that respect and provide us a lot of important
information. If you look at this map of the Chesapeake, to me it’s mind blowing that he
was able to design a map like this with no aerial photography. If you were to overlay
aerial photography or remote sensing data on top of this, it’s pretty accurate. To have
a map like this produced just from ground level or water level, it’s really pretty breathtaking
in terms of how accurate it is. The other thing that was great about John
Smith is that he wasn’t just interested in the geography. He was also very interested
in the cultural geography, so he made notes of where the Indian tribes had a presence,
where the kings’ houses were he referred to the chiefs as kings sometimes, kings’ houses
and provide for a more complete understanding of the landscape.
The John Smith Trail is largely driven by three themes. One is the exploration of John Smith
throughout the Chesapeake from 1607 to 1609. It’s also driven by the American Indian themes
American Indians’ relationships to the land and water in the Chesapeake 400 years ago
and today, and the natural and cultural ecosystem of the bay 400 years ago and what it is now.
That’s a really important theme, in that we’re also part of the Chesapeake Bay program and
we’re working with all our federal, state, and NGO partners to restore the bay. The John
Smith Trail actually gives us a tool that can help with bay restoration in terms of
educating the public and communicating to the public how much this place has changed
in 400 years ago, and help highlight some of the areas where we have environmental issues
that need attention. ICLs, indigenous cultural landscapes, they
comprise the cultural and natural resources that would have supported the historic lifestyles
and settlement patterns of an American Indian group in its totality.
Let me read you this quote here. “Importantly, the concept reminds that American Indian places
were not confined to individual sites of houses, towns, or settlements, and that American Indian
views of one’s homeland is holistic rather than compartmentalized into discrete site
elements typically used in our language today, such as hunting grounds, villages, or sacred
sites. Nor are the characteristics of important places divided into cultural and natural features.”
It’s really important to embrace this distinction as we talk about indigenous cultural landscapes,
or certain European perspectives that we’ve embraced. This big distinction between cultural
landscapes and natural landscapes and even inside/outside. We have this concept of when
you’re inside a house or a building and when you’re outside. These concepts, you need to
let go of them when you’re thinking about an indigenous cultural landscape, because
the whole land was their home. It requires a little bit of a paradigm shift,
you might say. Indigenous cultural landscapes, ICLs, documentation can inform conservation,
connect the public with natural and cultural resources, and importantly put indigenous
communities at the center of identification and reconnection with important places.
ICLs, more often than not, still evoke a feeling of the Chesapeake before European contact.
So many of the great rivers of the Chesapeake still are evocative of the landscape that
John Smith and American Indians experienced 400 years ago. One of our goals is to try
to keep some of these places looking like this, so that the public can transport themselves
back 400 years ago, and that we can protect some places that are important to our nation’s
history and American Indian history. Another interesting aspect of ICLs is that
the ICLs can shift or enhance a narrative of a landscape, and bring a whole new set
of stories to the landscape that have been removed from the public consciousness. We
have kiosks and signage across the trail trying to bring the American Indian story into focus.
In some cases, ICLs can renew indigenous connections with the Chesapeake’s waterways and natural
features. This photo is really special to us. It’s of
a member of the Onondaga nation. His name is Hickory Edwards. He and a group paddled
from upstate New York near Cooperstown, the headwaters of the Susquehanna. It was part
of a larger, multi faceted, and on going effort to reintroduce the lands and waters of the
Chesapeake to his people, the Onondaga nation. His intended journey was to send a message
that, “We are still here. The native people and their trade routes, and waterways, are
not forgotten. We need to remember our language and our lands. We need to re indigenize the
river.” I think that’s a very profound expression
on the part of Hickory Edwards of the need to reconnect his people to the Susquehanna
River, and how important it’s been in their culture. But I love that phrase, “We need
to re indigenize the river.” [pause]
Chuck: There’s a lot of words on this slide. I’ll leave it up for a second so you can just
peruse it. ICL characteristics include many of the elements essential to supporting human
habitation in all its dimensions. [pause]
Chuck: [inaudible 13:55] capture uplands, and lowlands, and variation in topography,
flora and fauna, historic transportation corridors, and marshes and sources of material and nourishment.
Much of the bay was inhabited in the early 17th century. John Smith encounters a very
rich, diverse, cultural landscape during his voyages. This is a very, hopefully, educated
guess as to the various tribes and nations he would have encountered. Very complex
and rather different today. In trying to better understand these landscapes, we have done a first round of ICLs on some
of the watersheds. Even with that, we have a very limited understanding of just tiny,
individually mapped components of it. But what we’ve done so far has been very rewarding.
I wanted to hold up a study that has been really profound for us. It’s done by Dr. Julia
King. It’s incredible in helping understand the significance of performing indigenous
cultural landscapes, and it more or less validates the theory, statistically, in terms of cross
walking, archaeology, with the ICL methodology. If any of you are interested in seeing a copy
of this study, please let me or Suzanne know. I’m going to turn it over to Suzanne. Suzanne’s
our chief of resource protection and partnerships for the Chesapeake Bay office and the John
Smith trail. She’s going to lead us into some of the details of ICL. She knows a lot more
about ICLs than I do. She’s been working with this methodology pretty closely for about
three years now? Suzanne Copping: [inaudible 16:23] .
Chuck: Suzanne? Suzanne: In turning around, I just noticed
that Julia King is there in the audience, and Scott Strickland is to her right. All
of you should make sure to introduce yourselves to this crew, because they’re pretty amazing
people. They’ve really helped us to further articulate the concept and its applications.
I’m glad Chuck left this slide. I could yabber on for hours about this, so I’ll make sure
to keep an eye on the clock, because I hope you have questions.
Just to step back just a little bit with this slide before I move on, this is a very spotty
slide. The Chesapeake Bay watershed is quite large. You can see the middle Potomac labeled
there Washington DC is just north of that. So we’re all sitting just north.
In order to really articulate what the ICL concept was, way back four or so years ago,
we had to start in a very tiny region. We started off in the Nanticoke watershed on
the Eastern Shore, Nanticoke labeled there, as a way to work with the descendant communities
there. University of Maryland led the study, and that was really our first time dipping
our toes in the water, trying to feel out what this ICL concept might roll out and become
actually on the ground. How do we turn theory into actuality?
All of these studies are on our website, which is at, Captain John Smith. The
Nanticoke produced a prototype methodology that we applied on the Nanticoke, and we applied
in a slightly different context along the lower Susquehanna, about a year or so later.
Then Julia and Scott applied on the middle Potomac just last year. Every study that we
do in a very tiny small region just further crystallizes the ICL concept, in our eyes.
I’ll start to get a little bit more into that process in a moment.
Meanwhile we’ve, in house at the Chesapeake Bay office, done a few studies that are more
on to the informal side in the lower James and the Nansemond. But you can see that the
work itself is rather segmented when we think about the actual presence of American Indians
on the landscape 400 and more years ago. Increasingly we’ve heard from different voices
around the watershed that it would be really nice if there were a titled Chesapeake scale
modeling work done to start to look at where there were some relationships, some trends,
if some statistical analysis could be done to shed a little bit of light on where there
is a higher probability to support American Indian lifestyles.
To help us to start to establish some priorities, given the limited funding we have to do ICL
studies, to start to draw connections and correlations among the different areas around
the bay. This is really hard map to see, but Scott
created it. We have a report here which you can look through. It will also be on our website.
We struggle between the need to really understand a large landscape approach at a really big
scale, like Chesapeake watershed at a river segment scale and a very small, site specific
scale, and find ourselves needing to jump back and forth amongst the different scales
and dimensionalities as we proceed. Now that Julie and Scott are here I’m no longer
the expert in the room, but I did want to mention that the ICL concept is perhaps a
process as much as it is a way to create a product. The documents, the characteristics
of an ICL on a landscape that looks at the various features on the slide that Chuck had
showed us before, the uplands, the lowlands, the transportation quarters, the marshes,
areas that have rich habitat, all of these features at the landscape and puts those on
a piece of paper. The product is as important as the process.
I wanted to point that out and point out what some of the key process steps in applying
an ICL concept on the ground would be. The prototype methodology I mentioned, that we
first started articulating when we worked on Nanticoke, laid out some general process
steps. Each subsequent study has refined those process steps a little bit more.
The work that Julie and Scott are doing, again, is clarifying even more because every location
is different. Every travel community is different. Their needs are different. The way they look
at the landscape is different. The process always has to be fluid in order to be meaningful,
but there’s really some key things that perhaps cross many, many landscapes.
Most importantly, it’s really important to start out talking with the descendant community,
and checking in with them and seeing what their comfort level is with being engaged
in a project to put special places on a map that might become public. That’s really critical.
Another critical process step that would come after that is actually gathering and starting
to map some of the data that’s out there, data across all different kinds of sources,
primary source, talking with the tribes themselves, secondary sources, archeology, a whole lot
of things. I’ll have some pretty pictures later to illustrate some of this, and of course,
site visits themselves with subject matter experts and tribes.
The interactive mapping exercises are really important, getting people around a map and
asking, “Draw bubbles on places that are important to you,” and discussions around what those
bubbles on the map tell us and then what analysis can we do, what conclusions can we make.
Incorporating those comments into documents that might be useful later on in various conservation
or interpretation applications, and then getting input on that, making sure everybody is on
the same page, and finally really just continuing to spark curiosity around how the ICL documentation
can start to become relevant to the larger tribal community, to the public, as it’s actually
used on the ground and interpretation, or through programming or perhaps through identification
of specific places for conservation. As I mentioned, one of the early staffs was
really gathering that information from subject matter experts, archeologists and historians.
Again, it’s going to depend on the area that you’re working in, what experts you might
want to be in touch with. These guys and gals are involved in a mapping exercise, really
free flowing, just drawing stuff on the map, pen to paper, and exploring the concept together
as a group and with descendant communities as well.
That similar exercise, going sometimes at the places that are important, hovering around
the map, being in that place, feeling that place and then drawing on the map and sharing
sensations about being in that environment. There’s sensitivity to this and individuality
and personality and all this, which I think ultimately can be very powerful.
This is just a close up of GIS map. This is from the Nanticoke study, which if you recall,
is the very first application of the ICL concept in a real landscape. The subsequent mapping
exercises, I’ll show you a few later, have become far more detailed and have brought
in different types of data than this one here. Nonetheless, this was the first one. The big
point to get across is when you do a mapping exercise, it ends up messy at first, [laughs]
because you’re overlaying all this different information. Nobody’s information is better
than another. All these inputs are really important. Some of these bubbles are areas
that have been surveyed for archeology. Other bubbles are areas that the descendant community
have drawn. Other areas are perhaps as a result of an
analysis, where some of the data are really coming together and synchronizing and where
the people looking at the maps might start to think, “Hey, maybe there’s some good stuff
here we want to explore further. We want to dig into the research a little further. We
want to go back to the communities or the subject matter experts and ask some more questions.”
The big black line around the edge is called, this is a really interesting term, the high
probability indigenous cultural landscape, because you can’t really draw a line around
what’s the landscape. For various reasons, the shape of the landscape itself change with
the seasons. It changes in the water table and over hundreds of years. Communities moved
and they came back. There’s a lot of variability, plus when using the nano bubble, it suddenly
gets really fuzzy. This concept, it continues to explode our
brains in terms of really thinking about it, but it’s really important to really play at
that line of, “Let’s try to get as exact as we can, but then let’s also be open to the
possibilities that the ICL does for us.” We never want to put it into a box.
I have to read a quote. This is an example of how the indigenous cultural landscape can
perhaps change within a particular…the meaning of it can change in a particular community.
This is, again, back to Nanticoke. Then we’ll get to a few of the other studies later.
The community is feeling that not only are the natural areas that look like they did
400 years ago, not only those areas really important to them today, but the places where
they continue to meet are also really important today. The building behind him probably doesn’t
meet National Register eligibility criteria, but nonetheless contributing resource is not
the right term in this context but it is an important resource that we need to consider
as part of the whole story. I want to bring us back to this picture here,
because this is the quote I was thinking of. This is Chief Sewell Fitzhugh and Windsor Meyer of the Nause-Waiwash looking at a map as they’re drawing on it. Fitzhugh recalls
and he’s looking at features on the map he says, “Remember, this feature is much closer
by water. We’re on one side. There’s the other side of the Nanticoke. What we’ve done, we’ve
gone all the way up and come all the way back down. See? There’s three lumps of trees.”
He’s looking out across the water behind him. “There’s one there. There’s one there, and
there’s a straggler down there. That’s Nause, all tree. It used to be all trees, and even
when I was born. That’s Nause. Those three lumps of trees constitute the village of Nause.
See what I’m saying?” He’s really reflecting on this actual landscape.
He’s looking at maps and reflecting, and making these connections and sharing those with his
community and with the rest of us. I wanted to mention that the ICL concept,
while it was instigated during the instigate is probably not the right word but during
the comprehensive management planning process for the John Smith Trail, the ICL concept
was imagined as a place to connect the cultural and natural resources into a context that
would be a tool for not only engaging American Indians, but communicating the story of landscape
stewardship and protection. For a moment, I want to step a little bit
away from the Chesapeake because many of you work in other programs or other offices, or
maybe you’re thinking about, “What might the applications be outside of the Chesapeake?”
I think deep down we hope that everybody across the country is going to embrace this as much
as we have. [laughs] There is a small core group of folks, Julie
is on it. There’s other folks in the National Park Service, Washington obviously are on
it. We call it the ICL core team. Periodically we get together and share notes, what we’ve
heard about things that might be of interest to the group. Over time, we’ve also shared
where we’ve heard that the indigenous cultural landscape concept might be migrating. There’s
some information on the website. Most of the information is spread by word of mouth.
We do believe, in addition to the Chesapeake and the National Park Service Office, that
there’s been a methodology. There have been some studies. We’re playing around with the
concept in a very informal way. For example, staff went down to the Nansemond River in
Virginia and worked with the Nansemond tribe. One day we just get out in the water with
some maps and talked with them about their lands and the places that were important to
them. It was a wonderful connection with the community and with the landscape. We can use
that information to develop interpretation, and even to think about some of the places
that we might add to the conservation agenda. We’re finding that the concept itself is being
included in the foundation documents for some of the national parks in the Northeast region,
and specifically Fort Monroe. The Fish and Wildlife Service has incorporated the ICL
concept into their comprehensive plans as a way of identifying places that are not only
naturally important for wildlife habitat, but also culturally important.
The marine protected areas have been influenced by this large landscape approach to identifying
important places. Finally, there’s some anecdotal applications of this approach, this process,
being applied in the Cascades, and at sea, and I’m forgetting…what’s the park with
four presidents? Audience: Mount Rushmore.
Suzanne: Thank you, Mount Rushmore. [laughs] I’m sorry. Mount Rushmore has had a not so
great relationship with descendant communities. They’re looking at the ICL concept as a way
to engage with the descendant communities and with the tribes in a way that’s really
positive. Stuff like that, it brings chills. It’s great. It’s really great. Up here, see?
There you go, Mount Rushmore. That should be my cue.
We just got a message that Minnesota Rivers Program was thinking about applying this ICL
concept in some of their engagement with the tribes to do interpretation and protection
along the rivers. I’m just going to show you a few maps. This
is of the Nanjemoy and Mattawoman creek watersheds. We have a full report up here. We have the
authors sitting three rows back, but this study involves the Piscataway in Maryland.
I attended a site visit with them. It was an incredible experience to be in these places
that were of such importance. I don’t want to get too much into it because
our authors are here, but it’s really amazing what this concept can do. Because we’re looking
at landscape here. We can teach people to read the landscape. These studies, they talk
about special places. But they can be tools to help the general public learn how to read
the landscape to look at trees, and flora and fauna and stuff like that, and see the
bigger picture, see the whole ecosystem. Imagine what it would take to live in that
kind of place. Studies like the Nansemond study can do that, really close to Washington,
DC. This is the Nansemond River in Virginia. This is the mapping exercise I described.
A couple of staff in the Chesapeake office went down, met with the Nansemond tribe and
some of the watershed groups down there. We took a boat tour, and we mapped out some
of the landscapes there. Sometimes staff and I were just seeing a pretty marsh, and the
Nansemond were saying, “Look over there,” and they would start to talk about it. There’s
stuff hidden everywhere that can come out in this process.
I’m going to hand it back to Chuck so he can wrap things up. Thanks for your time.
Chuck: Thanks, Suzanne. I guess the question is, what’s next? For the ICL concept that
Suzanne has indicated, we worked with other partners to help them think about how they
can incorporate some of these concepts into their work. Here’s a couple of other things
we’ve been thinking about, or looking at, obviously we’re going to continue on with
the work of documentation for protecting parcels along our priority segments. We’re going to
work on continuing to engage, to send in communities to see the landscapes through their eyes.
That’s going to be an ongoing process from here on out, hopefully. One interesting case
study is that Chief Anne Richardson of the Rappahannock is using the ICL concept to try
to engage young members of the Rappahannock tribe in connecting with their landscape.
She’ll be working through their cultural center there to get kids out on the landscape and
applying some of these tools to help them better understand their landscape and help
the Rappahannock better understand the landscape overall.
What I’d like to do is to challenge each of you to think about if there’s some way that
you can apply some of these methodologies within your work. Before we open it up for
questions, I want to acknowledge a couple things. One is I wanted to bring attention
to a book that we’ve collaborated with a number of partners called the “Virginia Indians at
Werowocomoco.” We worked with the Department of Historic
Resources, and the Virginia Historical Society to produce this publication. It has elements
of an ICL in it. We worked with a number of tribes that feel a connection to Werowocomoco,
which is where John Smith met Powhatan and a very important spiritual site for a number
of tribes in Virginia. I just want to let you know that that publication is out there.
I want to acknowledge a couple people. I’m sure everyone in this room is a conversation
hero or you wouldn’t be here. Wanting to figure out a way to use some of these ideas. Some
friends from the International Affairs Office is here, who’s doing great work in trying
to help protect sacred objects from being auctioned overseas. Thank you, guys, for being
here. I want to acknowledge Frances Kennedy, who
is a great conservationist in her own right, and acknowledged author. Her husband left
up behind an incredible legacy here at Interior as well as being the Director of the Park
Service in the past, Roger Kennedy. I also want to acknowledge Pat Noonan, who
is also a giant in the conversation circle. He started the Conservation Fund, Nature Concervancy, the
American Farmland Trust. We’re thrilled to have you here, Pat. Pat played a huge role
in the establishment of the John Smith Trail, and I’m very glad that Pat’s here to understand
some of things we’ve been working on in terms of helping his vision happen.
Thank you very much for being here. [applause}
Chuck: If you will stay around, and if you want to ask us any questions. Thank you!

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