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Narragansett Indian Tribe gathers for annual powwow

August 18, 2011

The Narragansett Indian Tribe held its 336th powwow last weekend in Charlestown, where tribesmen and women competed in dance. Photo by Charles Under Baggage

CHARLESTOWN – For 336 years, they have come together to celebrate life, to honor their heritage and to join as one community and one family. This past weekend, the Narragansett Indian Tribe came together as one once more during its annual powwow at Old Mill Road in Charlestown.

Despite the rainy Sunday, the tribe continued their two day celebration at the Narragansett Indian grounds by the Narragansett Indian Church, where they celebrated their annual powwow, one of the longest running recorded powwows in the country according to Chief John Thomas.

“We’ve been fighting and struggling together. Whether you recognize it or not, we’re all interrelated. If you have the right heart, you’ll see what you want to see. In our heart, we all stand. Every day, every day is a powwow, a celebration of healing. This is a gathering of friends and family. This is the celebration of life,” Chief John Thomas said to his tribesmen and women with pride in his booming voice.

And they stood and have been standing since 1524. According to the tribe’s history, the Narragansett Indians are the descendants of the aboriginal people of Rhode Island. In 1636, Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island first acquired land use rights to Providence from the Narragansett Sachems. Chief Thomas said the tribe has been celebrating the powwow or what he said was originally called a pau wau for 336 years.

For more information, pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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