Rhode Island Tribes
RHODE ISLAND INDIAN TRIBES
FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED TRIBES IN RHODE ISLAND
(Federal List Last Updated 5/16)
STATE RECOGNIZED TRIBES
(Not recognized by the Federal Governemnt)
UNRECOGNIZED / PETITIONING TRIBES
- Aquidneck Indian Council
- Pokanoket Tribe of the Wampanoag Nation. Letter of Intent to Petition 10/05/1994.
- Pokanoket-Wampanoag Federation: Wampanoag Nation/Pokanoket Tribe and Bands. Letter of intent to petition 1/5/1998.
- Rhode Island Indian Council
- Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe. Letter of Intent to Petition 10/29/1998.
- Wappinger Tribal Nation. Letter of Intent to Petition 7/7/2003.
- Wiquapaug Eastern Pequot Tribe. Letter of Intent to Petition 09/15/2000.
FIRST CONTACT TO PRESENT
The Narragansett tribe was the largest tribe in Rhode Island, and occupied the greatest area of land. The Narragansett were part of a loosely organized confederation of tribes called the Algonquin, with settlements up and down the East coast of North America.
Experts believe that around 7,000 Narragansett Indians lived in the area at the time the first European settlers arrived.
The native tribes farmed the land and also fished and hunted.
Women were responsible for planting, harvesting, preparing the food, gathering shellfish, and the building of the bark huts the people lived in. Men, on the other hand, spent much of their time in recreational activities, and assisted the women with fishing and hunting.
Men called “sachems” led small villages of Indians who lived in family groups.
Each village owed allegiance to two chief sachems who inherited their positions.
Other groups of Algonquin, some allied with the Narragansett, and some enemies, also lived in the area that would become Rhode Island. Other tribal people lived on many of the islands in the bay, including the Wampanoag, the Cowesett, the Shawoment, the Nipmuck, the Niantic, and the Pequot.
Soon after the arrival of European settlers, famine and diseases brought by the new settlers greatly reduced the number of native people in the area.
In 1676, the killing of Metacom, the Wampanoag chief, by an Indian allied with white settlers, ended the worst of the conflicts between European settlers and native people.
The remaining tribes banded together and eventually came to use the tribal name Narragansett.
PRE-CONTACT RHODE ISLAND TRIBES – PRE-HISTORIC CULTURES IN RHODE ISLAND
Native people occupied Rhode Island for thousands of years before explorers and settlers from Europe came to North America.
Genealogy:Sources of records on US Indian tribes