The Baltimore American Indian Center and Baltimore Center Stage will co-host a virtual launch and community celebration for several first-of-their-kind guides to Indigenous Baltimore which focus on the twentieth century and East Baltimore’s Historic American Indian “Reservation.” These free, public resources include an illustrated print guide, a website, and the Guide to Indigenous Baltimore cell phone walking tour app.
Baltimore is part of the ancestral homelands of the Piscataway and the Susquehannock, and a diverse host of American Indian folks from many nations have passed through or lived here at different times — and still do! In the mid-twentieth century, thousands of Lumbee Indians and members of other tribal nations migrated to Baltimore City seeking jobs and a better quality of life. They settled on the east side of town in an area that bridges the neighborhoods of Upper Fells Point and Washington Hill. Here, they created a vibrant, intertribal American Indian community which they affectionately referred to as their “reservation” in its heyday. In the decades since, due to a complex set of factors, ranging from upward mobility, to Urban Renewal, to gentrification, many American Indian people moved away from the area, which continues to transform. Recent generations never experienced “the reservation” as such. Today, most Baltimoreans are surprised to learn it ever existed.
In 2016, community based visual artist and folklorist Ashley Minner (Lumbee) began to formalize a very brief walking tour of the historic heart of the American Indian community of East Baltimore. In conversation with her elders, she came to realize there were many sites of significance that are no longer recognizable on the landscape or prominent in public memory. Through continued conversation and collaboration with elders and other community members, and a tremendous amount of archival research, the information included in these guides was produced. An all-star team of artists, designers, scholars, and culture bearers contributed their knowledge and expertise to give the information form. This work was funded by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, Alternate ROOTS, the American Folklore Society, the Dresher Center for Humanities, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and the University of Maryland College Park. Many more individuals and organizations have supported in other ways. For a full list of acknowledgements, sources, and more visit baltimorereservation.com on November 22, 2021 and after.
The Guide to Indigenous Baltimore app belongs to the larger family of digital mapping and mobile application projects created through the Guide to Indigenous Lands Project family. The Guide to Indigenous Lands Digital Mapping Project, founded by Dr. Elizabeth Rule (Chickasaw), is an initiative dedicated to the creation of mobile applications that map sites of Indigenous importance on lands across the present-day United States, Turtle Island, and beyond. The purpose of this project is to highlight contemporary as well as historic Indigenous communities, discuss Native contributions to the world, and encourage
engagement with the natural and built environments surrounding us all. This public humanities and public history project offers mobile applications in both iOS and Android formats, all of which are free to download and directed toward a general readership. If you are interested in creating a Guide to Indigenous Lands map and app for your city, tribal territory, state, ancestral lands, institution, university, or school, please reach out to Dr. Elizabeth Rule. You can learn more at http://www.elizabethrule.com/guide-to-indigenous-lands-project.
The launch will be emceed by E. Keith Colston (Lumbee/Tuscarora), Owner of Native America’s Protectors, LLC; and will feature remarks by Rico Newman (Choptico Band of Piscataway Indians), Chairman of the Maryland Indian Tourism Association; Linda Cox (Lumbee), Chair of the Baltimore American Indian Center Board of Directors; Annalisa Dias, Director of Artistic Partnerships & Innovation at Baltimore Center Stage; Jane Brown, President and Executive Director of the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation; Dr. Elizabeth Rule (Chickasaw), Assistant Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University; and Ashley Minner (Lumbee), whose fellowship with the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation funded the vast majority of the work being celebrated. Baltimore American Indian Center Board Chair Linda Cox says, “I’m so proud that Ashley put together history about our Lumbee people in Baltimore. We have something that we can all be proud of.”
The print guide to East Baltimore’s Historic American Indian “Reservation” will be available at the Baltimore American Indian Center, the Baltimore Visitor Center when it reopens, Maryland State Welcome Centers at I-95 North and I-70, and a growing list of local culture and heritage organizations. The website address is baltimorereservation.com. The cell phone app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.
Dr. Ashley Minner is a community-based visual artist from Baltimore and an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She earned her MFA (’11) and MA (’07) in Community Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art and her PhD (’20) in American Studies from University of Maryland College Park. In addition to maintaining her artistic practice, she works as an Assistant Curator for History and Culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Elizabeth Rule (Chickasaw Nation) is Assistant Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University. Rule’s research on Indigenous issues has been featured in the Washington Post, Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, The Atlantic, Newsy, and NPR, and scholarly venues American Indian Culture and Research Journal and American Quarterly. Rule has two forthcoming monographs: the first, Reproducing Resistance: Gendered Violence and Indigenous Nationhood, analyzes the intersection of violence against Native women and reproductive justice; the second, Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation’s Capital, analyzes historical and contemporary sites of Indigenous importance in Washington. She is the creator of the Guide to Indigenous Lands digital mapping project, which includes the Guide to Indigenous DC and Guide to Indigenous Baltimore mobile applications, among others. Previously, Dr. Rule has held posts as Director of the Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy at George Washington University, MIT Indigenous Communities Fellow, and Ford Foundation Fellow. Rule received her Ph.D. and M.A. from Brown University and her B.A. from Yale University.
The Baltimore American Indian Center (BAIC) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1968 with a mission to assist and support American Indian and Alaskan Native families moving into an urban environment and adjusting to the culture change they will experience. Today, the BAIC prioritizes cultural heritage
preservation and education programs, providing a welcoming, safe space for the American Indian community to gather, a place where people are treated with dignity, respect, and understanding, and cultural practices are kept alive.
Founded in 1963 and designated the State Theater of Maryland in 1978, Baltimore Center Stage provides the highest quality theater and programming for all members of our communities, including youth and families, under the leadership of Artistic Director Stephanie Ybarra. Baltimore Center Stage ignites conversations and imaginations by producing an eclectic season of professional productions across two mainstages and an intimate 99-seat theater, through engaging community programs, and with inspiring education programs. Everything we do at Center Stage is led by our core values—chief among them being Access For All. The Baltimore Center Stage mission is heavily rooted in providing active and open accessibility for everyone, regardless of any and all barriers, to our Mainstage performances, education initiatives, and community programming.
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