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Black and white photo of children looking out an open door
Looking for Daddy by Anacostia photographer Dion Johnson

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Hope in Our City: Anacostia, a Place of Spirit
A Local Legacy

You have probably heard of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. But have you ever heard of the Anacostia River?

The Anacostia is the eastern branch of the Potomac River. The Anacostia Historic District in southeast Washington is one of the oldest suburbs in the District of Columbia. The name Anacostia may have come from "anaquasha-tanik," which means village trading center, from the Native Americans who lived there. The area used to be known as Nacochtank, which was a settlement of Necostan or Anacostan Indians. The Indians lived well there, surviving on an almost endless supply of fish from the river. The first European explorer to visit this area was Captain John Smith (of Pocahontas fame) in 1608. His visit opened up the area to European settlement along the Anacostia River a few years later.

The Local Legacies project for the District of Columbia was called "Hope in Our City: Anacostia, a Place of Spirit." This two-part project used visual art, music, and seminars to celebrate the rich and historic heritage of Anacostia. The first part was an exhibition in 1998 of artists and photographers, such as Dion Johnson, whose work you see here. The second part, held at Washington's Union Station in February 1999, celebrated National African American History Month by focusing on the relationship between the spiritual roots of freedom and the inner city.

When visiting the sites of the nation's capital, don't forget to visit Anacostia.

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