Chief Sewell E. Winterhawk Fitzhugh, 1953—2014

MD-Chief Sewell E Winterhawk Fitzhugh passes_1col
ELLIOT ISLAND–Chief Sewell Edward “Winterhawk” Fitzhugh, 60, of this village passed away on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at his home. He was born in Cambridge on November 25, 1953 and was a son of the late Elizabeth Willey Travers and Clarence Edward Fitzhugh.

He graduated from South Dorchester High School class of 1972. On December 24, 1974, he married the former Kathryn Robbins. He had worked for Western Publishing. Sewell, a lifelong resident of Dorchester County, worked to promote Native American interests throughout his life.

Sewell E. Winterhawk Fitzhugh was elected Chief of the Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians in 1993. Chief Winterhawk also served on the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs. He was often requested to speak for schools and civic organizations. Sewell loved sharing his wide range of knowledge of the Indian history and culture. He served as a mentor to a number of young men and women, many of whom considered him their adopted father.

Chief Winterhawk’s Nause-Waiwash tribe called the Eastern Shore their home for 13 generations. “Here we lived in peace, here we governed ourselves and lived by the old ways,” he said.

The native Dorchester County residents made their home near modern-day Vienna. Their Great Chief-of-Chief ‘s village was east of town at Chicone. As the European presence in North America grew, native people were forced off of their land. In the 1700s, many of the Nause-Waiwash’s ancestors fled the area. They traveled north into Pennsylvania and some to Canada.

Those who remained fled into the marshes where they remained for many years. Many eventually married the European settlers. As the years went on some of the descendants of the once prosperous native tribe lost touch with their ancient traditions, others continued teaching the old ways. Those who knew Chief Winterhawk knew him as a teacher and a promoter of Native American ways, no matter the tribe.

He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Kathryn, his daughter Joanna and Omro Willey III, two grandchildren Omro Willey IV and Rachel Willey and his brother Julian Fitzhugh and wife Ann, two nephews C.J. Fitzhugh and James Crawford Fitzhugh.

Pallbearers will be Gatley Rinehart, Paul Rinehart, Joshua Rinehart, Dale Enzor, John Reese and Omro Willey, III.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday, October 17, 2014 at 11 a.m. at St. Mary Refuge of Sinners Catholic Church in Cambridge with Father William Lawler officiating. Interment will follow at Sandy Island Cemetery. Family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians, c/o Donna Abbott, 212 East Appleby Ave., Cambridge, MD 21613. Arrangements are in the care of the Thomas Funeral Home, P.A. in Cambridge.

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