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Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives Kicks Off American Indian Heritage Month with Ground Blessing, Naming, and Awards Ceremony

New University of Maryland Dining Hall Named “Yahentamitsi”

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, in partnership with the University of Maryland, College Park, today kicked off American Indian Heritage Month with a ground blessing, awards ceremony, and a name for a new campus dining hall: Yahentamitsi (Yah-hen-tuh-meet-c).

“The rich history and culture of Native Americans and indigenous peoples is something that we cherish and honor,” said Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives Director Steven McAdams. “Through our Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, we have forged a strong bond with these communities to help tell their story. We encourage all Marylanders to learn about our history and keep the traditions of American Indian tribes in Maryland alive.”

The university is in the process of building a $180 million Heritage Community that includes two residence halls, Pyon-Chen Hall and Johnson-Whittle Hall, and the first new dining hall on campus in nearly 50 years. The name is translated to “a place to eat,” from the extinct Algonquian language spoken by the Piscataway. The name was developed in a partnership between students, faculty and staff, including the American Indian Student Union, Piscataway elders, and tribal members.

“The naming of our new dining hall in honor of the Piscataway people is a symbolic way in which we are ushering in a new era of inclusiveness at the University of Maryland. Acknowledging our storied past is one of the most important steps in creating a community that is TerrapinSTRONG,” said University President Darryll J. Pines. “I hope that whenever students, faculty and staff see the name Yahentamitsi, it inspires them to learn more about the incredible people who came before us and the communities they represent.”

Following a special ground blessing and naming ceremony, members of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs held a kickoff of Indian Heritage Month that included an awards ceremony to recognize those who have made contributions in the community.


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