Narragansett people

The Narragansett people are an Algonquian American Indian tribe from Rhode Island. The tribe was nearly landless for most of the 20th century, but it worked to gain federal recognition and attained it in 1983. It is officially the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island and is made up of descendants of tribal members who were identified in an 1880 treaty with the state.

Native American tribe from Rhode Island, US
For other uses of the term, see Narragansett (disambiguation).
Total population
2,400 (1990s[1])
Regions with significant populations
United States (Rhode Island)


Formerly Narragansett, now English
Traditional tribal religion,
Related ethnic groups
Nipmuc, Niantic, Pawtuxet, Pequot, Shawomet[1]

The tribe acquired land in 1991 in their lawsuit Carcieri v. Salazar, and they petitioned the Department of the Interior to take the land into trust on their behalf. This would have made the newly acquired land to be officially recognized as part of the Narragansett Indian reservation, taking it out from under Rhode Island’s legal authority. In 2009, the United States Supreme Court ruled against the request, declaring that tribes which had achieved federal recognition since the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act did not have standing to have newly acquired lands taken into federal trust and removed from state control.

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The Narragansett tribe was recognized by the federal government in 1983 and controls the Narragansett Indian Reservation, 1,800 acres (7.3 km2) of trust lands in Charlestown, Rhode Island.[2] A small portion of the tribe resides on or near the reservation, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.[3] Additionally, they own several hundred acres in Westerly.[2]

In 1991, the Narragansetts purchased 31 acres (130,000 m2) in Charlestown for development of elderly housing. In 1998, they requested that the Department of the Interior take the property into trust on behalf of the tribe, to remove it from state and local control. The case went to the United States Supreme Court, as the state challenged the removal of new lands from state oversight by a tribe recognized by the US after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. Rhode Island was joined in its appeal by 21 other states.[4][5]

In 2009, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Department of the Interior could not take land into trust, removing it from state control, if a tribe had achieved federal recognition after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, and if the land in question was acquired after that federal recognition. Their determination was based on wording in the act which defines “Indian” as “all persons of Indian descent who are members of any recognized tribe now under federal jurisdiction.”[6]

The tribe is led by an elected tribal council, a chief sachem, a medicine man, and a Christian leader. The entire tribal population must approve major decisions.[2] The administration in 2018 was:

  • Chief Sachem: Anthony Dean Stanton
  • Medicine Man: John Babcock Brown

Tribal Council

Cassius Spears, Jr., 1st Councilman

Mike Monroe Sr, 2nd Councilman

Councilman: John Pompey

Councilman: Lonny Brown, Sr.

Councilwoman: Yvonne Lamphere

Councilman: Keith Sampson

Councilman: Shawn Perry

Councilman: John Mahoney

Councilman, Raymond Lamphere

Tribal Secretary, Monica Stanton

Assistant Tribal Secretary: Betty Johnson

Tribal Treasurer: Mary S. Brown

Assistant Tribal Treasurer: Walter K. Babcock

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