Even though European settlers imposed new architectural styles and new ideas of urban planning on America, they usually built over existing Indian settlements rather than clearing out new areas of settlement.
Subsequent generations of Americans usually forgot that their towns and cities had been founded by Indians. Myths rose about how the colonists literally carved their settlements out of the uninhabited forest. Nowhere does contemporary civic mythology elaborate on this theme more than in the case of Washington, D.C.
According to this story, George Washington himself, the father of his country, surveyed this virgin land astride the Potomac River as a place to build a new capital equidistant between the northern and southern halves of the country. The location on the Potomac also gave the city a potential water link into the Ohio River system.
Few American books bother to mention that the city of Washington arose on top of Naconchtanke, the main trading town of the Conoy Indians. At the time of their first contact with the Virginia colonists in 1623, the site served as home and headquarters to Chief Patawomeke and his followers. The name of the chief evolved in the present name Potomac, and Naconchtanke survives only in its Latinized corruption Anacostia, one of the subdivisions of the city of Washington.
In the 1975 excavation on the White House lawn for the presidential swimming pool, builders found Indian relics that pointed to the commercial prosperity of a former Indian group. Only a few blocks away from the White House, the Indians had operated one of the largest Indian quarries for steatite or soapstone. Numerous manufacturing sites surrounded it where Indian craftsmen made dishes, pipes, and implements from the soft stone.
From here the Indians traded the manufactured goods all along the eastern coast in what may have been the last productive enterprise practiced by humans along this stretch of the Potomac.