In 1608, English Captain John Smith's explorations of the Chesapeake Bay led him up the Nanticoke River. He may have felt as if he were exploring the New World, but the Native Americans he encountered had been living in the region for millennia. The Nanticokes, as they came to be called, were the largest group on Maryland's Eastern Shore at the time.
The Nanticokes were governed by a paramount chief whose main town, north of Vienna, became known as Chicone. As the number of colonists increased, European practices conflicted with age-old native traditions. In 1698, the Chicone Indian Reservation was established by 70 years later was disbanded as many of its inhabitants had moved away. Today some descendants of the native people continue to live in the region.