The official acknowledgment that the Piscataway Indians are Maryland's indigenous people is cause for celebration ("For Md. Piscataways, vindication at long last," Jan. 17). Recognition of this fact is long overdue.

For 25 years I volunteered as an educator at the Maryland Historical Society, teaching Maryland school children about the history of our state. When we talked about the early colonial period, I stressed the debt the colonists owed to the native people.

We studied Indian village life, their methods of felling trees and building dugout canoes, working flint, farming and fishing — and their willingness to share this knowledge with the colonists.

The children were encouraged to handle authentic Indian artifacts — projectile points, axes, grinding tools and more. Some of these artifacts are at least 15,000 years old. The Piscataway Indians became real people with the same needs and emotions we all have. This was an exciting lesson, a way of connecting the past and the present.

Maryland is a state with a rich and varied cultural heritage. Let us rejoice that the Piscataway Indians can now claim their proper place in our history, a history that long precedes the arrival of other peoples on our shores.

Margaret Treacy Egan, Baltimore