About the Town of Indian Head

Indian Head

Just outside the base gates, the town of Indian Head is in the midst of a revitalization with new homes being built and new businesses opening their doors. 

Nearly 3,800 people reside within town limits, and they enjoy the perks of a friendly small-town atmosphere along with the convenience that comes from being less than 30 miles south of Washington, D.C. It’s an ideal spot for commuters who work in the city, as well as for those who work on Naval Support Facility Indian Head.

 The town’s Village Green is a popular site for many community activities and festivals. With the town’s location at the confluence of Mattawoman Creek and the Potomac River, it’s an ideal site for outdoor recreation, including hiking and biking along the Indian Head Rail Trail, as well as the town’s new waterfront boardwalk.

The History of the Town

The town and the base occupy land that was once part of the territory of the Algonquin Indians.  The Native Americans who lived along the lower Potomac River had a complex society of kin-based bands, which in turn were loosely organized into confederations at the time of European settlement.  

Scholars believe that by 1608, the Native American groups north of the Potomac were divided into about 10 petty chiefdoms. Of these groups, the Piscataway, Anacostan, Mattawoman, Nanjemoy and Portobaco were further organized into a paramount chiefdom headed by the Piscataway. The paramount chief of this group was known as the Tayac.​

In 1654, the Second Lord Baltimore, Celilius Calvert, granted 5,000 acres to his friend Thomas Cornwallis. In 1890, the naval base was established on the land and, in 1920, the town of Indian Head was established.

Though details of the exact evolution of the name of the town may be lost to history, it is likely that it was simply an abbreviation of the geographic designation of Indian Headlands — as the land was a peninsula settled by Native Americans and overlooked the Potomac River.

Current supported commands on board NSF Indian Head include the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity, Naval Sea Logistics Center Indian Head, Joint Interoperability Test Command, and Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force.