Indigenous People’s Day

Image from the Rambler Photograph Collection (RA 0234).

Image from the Rambler Photograph Collection (RA 0234).

This year October 9th marks Indigenous People’s Day. Generally recognized on the second Monday of October, and sharing the day with Columbus Day, Indigenous People’s Day acknowledges and honors the lives, land, and resilience of Native people in North America.

A woman, a man, and four children stand in front of a worn white-washed wooden house. Printed from a glass-plate negative, this photograph from the early 20th-century provides a rare glimpse into the lives of an area Piscataway family.

Taken in Oxon Hill, Maryland between 1900 and 1915, the image is part of our Rambler Photograph Collection, which includes 1,800 images taken by John Henry Shannon, as he documented life in the D.C. region for the Sunday Star. Known as “The Rambler,” Shannon focused on daily living, and many of his photographs capture families, schools, clubs, and communities.

Before European colonization, the Piscataway Nation was the largest Indigenous population in the Chesapeake region, inhabiting the land that would become the District of Columbia. Shannon’s photograph disproves the common notion that the D.C. area had no Indigenous people by the early 1900s. Here we see a family pausing to be photographed, though if you look closely, the child standing to the left of the white-shirted woman, seems rather reluctant to pose.