Nanticoke Indians request town’s collaboration in state marker quest, other projects

MILLSBORO — Descendants of the first inhabitants of what is now Millsboro wish to share the history of the area and its people.

A Delaware Public Archives state historical marker and other informational/interpretive signage are the Nanticoke Indian Tribe’s goals in a collaborative effort with the town of Millsboro.

“We were its earliest inhabitants of the present day town of Millsboro and surrounding area,” said Natosha Norwood Carmine, Nanticoke Indian Tribe Chief. “This is home to many of us who were born and raised in Millsboro. It is home to me.”

Millsboro council at its April 1 meeting unanimously approved Chief Carmine’s request to support and work with the Nanticoke Indian Tribe and its planning committee in pursuit of a state historical marker.

If granted by the state, the archives marker would be located at Cupola Park, most likely along the Indian River where tribe ancestors centuries ago fished and traveled those waters.

“Do have any areas that you would like … if passed?” asked Millsboro Mayor John Thoroughgood. “Do you have any ideas?”

“Something maybe near the water … to be visible to all,” said Chief Carmine.

A planning committee is being put together to meet monthly.

“The committee and I would want to take a walk in the park. We’re going to have a committee meeting in the next couple of weeks and then we will decide where and look at the site and the writings that we would like on that marker,” said Chief Carmine. “We’re excited about it, the opportunity to have this placed there as our people were there as the early inhabitants of the town of Millsboro and the surrounding area.”

Council voted 7-0 in approving councilman Tim Hodges’ motion for council to support the Nanticoke Tribe and work with them in locating a “suitable location in the park for the marker.”

“I just think it’s great that the town is doing that. Their ancestors were the first inhabitants, and I think it is important to remember that,” said Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson, noting he has been asked to serve on the committee.

Historically speaking, the Nanticoke Indian Tribe website cites the first recorded European contact was explorer Captain John Smith in 1608.

While exploring the Chesapeake Bay, Capt. Smith and his crew sailed onto the Kuskarawaok River, and encountered the Kuskarawaoks, later known as the Nanticoke Indians.

Several days after an apprehensive beginning punctuated by arrows and muskets, there was an exchange of food and gifts of friendship. Several Nanticoke agreed to serve as guides for Capt. Smith to continue his exploration of the Kuskarawaok, now known as the Nanticoke River.

Capt. Smith described the Nanticoke as “the best merchants of all,” according to Nanticoke Indian Tribe website.

In addition to the marker, the Nanticoke Indian Tribe Commemorative Committee, which was formed last July, also hopes to have its rich history showcased in plans for a new town hall and a multi-purpose park.

“We would like to collaborate with the town in some thoughts and some ideas for this project if the town would allow us,” said Chief Carmine. With the new town hall, the committee respectfully requests that if the town decides to incorporate a “Welcome to Millsboro” sign that it includes the Nanticoke logo/art work on a wall at the westbound entrance of the town limits.

For the new park, which currently is in the initial conceptual stages near the western limits, the Nanticoke committee requests that the town consider including, but not limited to, interactive and/or interpretive markers, displays and exhibits highlighting the Nanticoke Tribe’s footprint as an integral component.

In the future, the committee envisions Nanticoke signage at town-owned property on eastbound Route 24 just past the Rite-Aid store.

The Nanticoke Indian Association is active in the community, with heritage events, the annual Powwow and other events such as Earth Day and Blessing of the River.

“We would like to collaborate with the town in some thoughts and some ideas for this project, if the town would allow us,” said Chief Carmine.

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