Piscataway Tribe reacts after learning Indian Head Highway has not been renamed

The Piscataway Conoy Tribe says they feel "bamboozled and defeated" after learning Indian Head Highway will not officially be renamed Piscataway Highway.

According to the native Maryland tribe, the bill Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law on April 21 is not being interpreted by the Maryland State Highway Administration or the Maryland Department of Transportation as a name change. 

Instead, they say, it's being recognized as a designation without a name change, and the roadway will still have Indian Head signage – which is not the outcome they fought for. 

In a statement to FOX 5, Piscataway Conoy Chief Jesse James Swann said his tribe was very clear in its seven-year plight that they all wanted the name changed. 

Piscataway Tribe responds to Maryland's Indian Head Highway being renamed Piscataway Highway

"The almost 5,000 supporters on Change.org were clear when they signed the petition. The several thousand others including Piscataway Conoy Tribal Members and Piscataway Indian Nation Members were clear when they signed the petition. County Executive Alsobrooks was clear when she wrote a letter of support - changing the derogatory name," Chief Swann said in the statement. "I believed that the governor and I were clear, both at the signing of the bill and again on April 26, 2022, when the Governor and his wife congratulated us on the changing of the name at his daughter's event."

"We were one of two of the first Maryland State recognized tribes, yet we own no land and all of our tribal members are taxed on their land-the same lands stolen from our people. We only asked to have the derogatory name of Indian Head Highway changed," the chief added. 

A spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) tells FOX 5 that the agency is proceeding with the designation of Maryland 210 as Piscataway Highway. 

"Many roadways across the state have been designated to honor or recognize groups, organizations, or individuals. This legislation creates a designation of the highway, not a renaming. It will not impact maps, GPS devices or street addresses," the MDOT SHA spokesperson said. 

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The bill is slated to go into effect on October 1, 2022. While the agency works on an implementation strategy, the Piscataway Conoy tribe is asking Governor Hogan to honor the intent of the law and instruct SHA, MDOT, MNCPPC, and any other Maryland State, County, Jurisdictional Agency/Entity to change the name.

"We plead with Governor Hogan to make the right step forward in honoring the people that protected the ancestors of all of the other Marylanders here today," Chief Swann said.