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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Bella Noka, winner of Eastern Blanket Dance Championship, Oct. 1999
Bella Noka, world champion, Eastern Blanket Dance category, Schemitzun Pow Wow, October 1999 Photo Courtesy Randy R. Nokia

The Narragansett Indian Tribe

The Narragansett Indian Tribe has a long history in Rhode Island, predating the first settlement by European colonists. As early as 1675, the Narragansett and Niantic tribes entered into treaties with the United colonies of Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 1709, the tribal land base was reduced to the Town of Charlestown, Rhode Island, by deed to the Rhode Island Colony. The tribe reclaimed part its land as a result of federal legislation, the Rhode Island Indian Claims Settlement Act, passed September 30, 1979, and the Narragansett tribe finally achieved Federal recognition and acknowledgment by a presidential proclamation issued February 10, 1983. Tribal membership of more than 2,500 lives on reservation acreage in Washington County, Rhode Island, and is governed by a Chief Sachem and a nine-member Tribal Council under the tribe's traditional, cultural, organic law. Other Narragansett traditional positions include a sub-chief, war chief, chief scout, tribal medicine man, historian, and prophet.

Proposed economic development of the tribe centers in a trading post, commercial pow-wows, a guided tour of tribal properties, a gaming and entertainment center, forestry projects, a tribal museum, a library and research center, cable television, and franchise businesses.

The project is documented with text entitled "The Narragansett Indian Tribal Profile, 1998," five copies (and duplicates) of the Narragansett Indian News, a tribal newspaper, and a video, "Our Neighbors, The Narragansetts," which gives insights into the history of the Narragansetts, their traditions and culture, as well as current problems facing the tribe.

Originally submitted by: Robert Weygand, Representative (2nd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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