Push-ma-ta-ha, Choctaw chief, ca. 1837-1844. Copy after Charles Bird King. National Museum of American Art

Native Americans Who Never Left Capitol Hill

May 21, 2018
Lecturer Chuck diGiacomantonio of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, relayed the visits to Washington by several dozen Native Americans who died while there and are buried in Congressional Cemetery.

Capitol Hill's Historic Congressional Cemetery (HCC) is home to two notable types of temporary visitors who became permanent residents of Washington: members of Congress who died during office and Native Americans who died negotiating treaties or lobbying the government. Although far from their homeland, figures such as Pushmataha and Peter Pitchlynn (both Choctaw) and almost three dozen other emissaries have been welcomed -- in death -- into the Capitol Hill community. During this illustrated lecture delivered on Monday, May 21, 2018, at the Hill Center, William diGiacomantonio discussed the multi-layered significance of this relationship: from the national arena (diplomatic relations), to the community (the funeral ceremonies that marked Indian interments on the Hill), down to the personal and intimate patches of real estate where these individuals remain our permanent neighbors. One of the highlights of the lecture was a series of contemporary portraits of the Indians by various artists that captured the dignity of the subjects.

William (Chuck) diGiacomantonio, who first studied early Federal-Indian relations while researching the Creek Treaty of 1790 for The Documentary History of the First Federal Congress, is currently Chief Historian of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society and a long-time member of HCC's K-9 Corps.

Past Lectures