Meet Turkey Tayac of Accokeek

turkey212Turkey Tayac, born as Philip Sheridan Proctor, the leader of the Piscataway Indian Nation of Prince George’s County, and an inspiration to Native Americans throughout America, was instrumental in re-claiming the continuing legacy and culture of the Piscataway in Maryland.  The first European to note the activities of the Piscataway was John Smith who, in 1608, mapped this populous and thriving tribe in what is now known as Prince George’s County.   Thought until the 1960s to have migrated outside of Maryland, Turkey Tayac established a now-widely-recognized validation of “self-identification,” which revealed a significant living population of Piscataways in the county that dated back as far as 1300 AD.  He was especially concerned with the protection of an archeological site in Accoceek that is now a National Historic Landmark, part of the Piscataway National Park. Although he died of leukemia in 1978 and didn’t live to see the Piscataway recognized as a living tribe, his descendants continued the effort and were ultimately rewarded with recognition by the state of Maryland in 2012.

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