Committees & Workplan
In 2012, the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs assisted in the historic event concerning the Piscataway Indian Nation and the Piscataway Conoy Tribe being granted Maryland Indian Status. In 2014 the commission looks forward working with newly elected Governor Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr. and the duty of unity to increase the voice of the American Indian community. The goal is to increase job opportunities and to utilize the diversity of each community. We remain focused on the common strengths to move us passed the obstacles that we face in our communities.
Change in Leadership
The Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives (GOCI) and MCIA followed suit with the State of Maryland by introducing a new Executive Director, Mr. Steven A. McAdams to lead the agency. Newly hired Chief of Staff, Mr. Winston Wilkinson will handle the day to day operations for GOCI. and Administrative Director E. Keith Colston has been promoted to Director of Ethnic Commissions. Colston will continue his role as Administrative Director for MCIA as well. Mr. Colston is of the Tuscarora and Lumbee tribes began his tenure on January 31, 2007. Mr. Colston, with the aid of department staff, directs and organizes behind the scenes as well as be at the forefront of various events throughout the year. His ideology has always remained constant that the American Indian community must take a proactive stance and reach out to help resolve many issues that plague its members. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Department of Aging, Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Department of Planning, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Maryland State Department of Education, Governor’s Office on Community Initiatives – as well as federal and local entities combined their resources to reach the goals set forth by MCIA.
400 Years and Counting
The uniqueness of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs is the historic connections to the State of Maryland. A visual account of this face came to life during the Patuxent Encounter Series through the joint efforts of the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, the Governor’s Office and Commission. A thoughtful and specific plan to bring the John Smith 400 Year Project to life in conjunction with the Friends of Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail, allowed another partnership to come forth. The lecture series encompassed Tribal Chiefs and traditional American Indian speakers to teach and share the rich history of the Indigenous groups of Maryland. The efforts and diligent work came to a climatic event on August 4th and 5th, 2007 in St. Leonard, Maryland with the landing of the ship’s crew and retracing of the steps of Indigenous peoples of Maryland.
One of the panel discussions that was a part of the Patuxent Encounter series dealt with Repatriation. The Commission partnered and aided by having commissioners, American Indian community members and staff attend the event. This invoked an opportunity for individuals to gain the facts to interpret the law involving NAGRA and the remains of American Indians and artifacts. The Department of Planning, Department of Human Resources and the Commission met to discuss and implement a policy to resolve many of the issues concerning Repatriation in the State of Maryland and the American Indian.
Health Disparities of American Indians
Another strategic partnership was developed with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Health Disparities for American Indians range from cancer to diabetes, mental abuse to substance abuse. The Commission became involved with the Minority Outreach Technical Assistance (MOTA) funded by the Cigarette Restitution Fund delegated by DHMH. To impact American Indian communities in a respectful and progressive manner, the first of two “Health Fair Pow-wows” were planned and became models for future events. Holy Cross Hospital partnered and shared resources to make the events successful. The event gave the Commission the chance to promote cultural healing as well as physical healing.
American Indian Heritage Month
The Governor’s Office and the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs strived to increase awareness of the important roles that Maryland’s Indigenous communities have played. November of 2014 set the stage for an impressive over 40 engagements outreach efforts that was held in recognition of American Indian Heritage Month in Maryland. The official kick-off took place at the in the homeland of the Piscataway. The activities of the month ranged from lectures, panel discussions to dance presentations and luncheons with foreign dignitaries. MCIA ended 2014 with a celebration finale at St Joseph’s Church in Pomfret,MD. The kickoff celebrated the historic passage of HB40 by the General Assembly that officially established November as American Indian Heritage Month in Maryland as one of its commemorative months. Maryland is home to more than 58,000 people who identify as having American Indian ancestry.. The Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs will continue to promote awareness and better understanding of both historical and contemporary American Indian contributions and issues as we move forward.
The Governor’s Office and the Commission will continue to uphold the tradition of serivce, outreach, and the development of new partnerships and strengthening existing partnerships and to continue to promote awareness and better understanding of both historical and contemporary American Indian contributions and issues as we move forward towards the future.