On June 18, 1934, the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) was passed, stating that tribes now under federal jurisdiction could follow the land-into-trust process. The Narragansett, due to the illegal actions of the Rhode Island General Assembly from 1880 through 1884, were not under federal jurisdiction. However, it was understood that it intended to mean at the time federal status was obtained. This was planting the seeds of many clashes the Narragansett would go on to have with the state of Rhode Island. In 1975, the tribe filed a lawsuit over land that had been taken from them by unfair means. The lawsuit was settled in 1978 as the Rhode Island Indian Land Claims Settlement Act. The Narragansett regained 1800 acres of land around their reservation in Charlestown, Rhode Island. However, the state did implement some stipulations that have also created disputes between tribe and state ever since. The tribe agreed that the land would be under legal jurisdiction of Rhode Island laws and taxes, with the exception of aboriginal hunting and fishing rights. The next step was to file for federal recognition, something the Narragansett would have certainly obtained decades earlier, if not for the illegal detribalization of about 100 years before. Then it finally happened. On April 11, 1983, the Narragansett tribe was a federally recognized tribal nation. The recognition status gave the Narragansett access to federal funding for healthcare, education and a multitude of other needs to assist tribal members. Internal disputes have risen up from time to time, but the tribe’s biggest opposition has been the U.S. government. In particular, their own home state of Rhode Island. Carcieri vs. Salazar decision. The decision went against the Narragansett. Thomas stated that the IRA portion which stated “now under federal jurisdiction could follow the land-into-trust process” hinged on the word “now” and, to the court’s determination, “now” meant as of 1934. This created an uproar in Indian Country and several bills have been introduced in the 14 years since, but none have made it to the President’s desk. Again, the injustice of the 1880-1884 illegal detribalization continues to unfairly haunt the Narragansett tribe. The Narragansett people continue to survive, show perseverance and fight for equality. On the heels of Anthony Dean Stanton winning reelection to the office of Chief Sachem, the tribe still looks for opportunities to sustain the culture, continue the traditional ways and better the lives of the tribal community. As of now, the Narragansett watch as the House of Representatives has introduced H.R.1208 and the Senate has introduced S.563. Both bills are to amend the Carcieri vs Salazar decision and allow the Secretary of the Interior to place land-into-trust for all federally recognized tribes, regardless of when they gained their federal status, or pass a clean Carcieri fix, in layman’s terms.
Forty-six years ago, one of the greatest athletes and a true Indigenous icon, made the transition from a star on earth to a star in the sky. @UrbanN8VWarrior #EllisonBrown #TarzanBrown #Narragansett https://t.co/kqt3by428u— indianz.com (@indianz) September 1, 2021
The tribe seeks potential financial ventures to help the community gain a level playing field in today’s world, with an eye on the future. Should anyone want to help the push for a clean Carcieri fix, please feel free to click the link and sign the petition at chng.it/K7Ls4FVz. Forty years of federal recognition status and the Narragansett are still fighting for what’s rightfully ours. Fighting for things that we shouldn’t have to. But at least we are still here and we will continue to show our resilience. Happy 40th Anniversary of recognition to us, the proud Nanhigganeuck. A’ho.
The Narragansett Tribe was the first affected by #Carcieri in 2009. The tribe can never restore the lands it lost by theft, genocide and worse. A fix passed the House almost a year ago. It has not been taken up in the Senate either. #StandWithMashpee https://t.co/MTV56YpqUC— indianz.com (@indianz) March 28, 2020
Brian Lightfoot Brown studied U.S. History at the University of Rhode Island, is an enrolled citizen of the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island and a grand nephew of 2-time Boston Marathon winner and 1936 U.S. Olympian Ellison “Tarzan” Brown.
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