3 Rhode Island towns adopt ‘land acknowledgements’ honoring Native American tribes

By Antonia Noori Farzan,Providence Journal, Dec. 31, 2021

Not too long ago, college campuses and gatherings of left-wing activists were the only places where you were likely to hear a “land acknowledgement” statement.

Now, you only have to go as far as Barrington Town Hall.

Over the last year, a few towns across Rhode Islandhave started honoring the area’s original Native American inhabitants by adopting formal land acknowledgement statements that are read at council meetings. Warren started the trend this summer, followed by South Kingstown and Barrington. 

“It seemed like the appropriate next step to really owning our history,” said Warren Town Council president Keri Cronin. 

Unlike the other towns, Warren doesn’t require that its land acknowledgement statement be read at every council meeting. But the full text has been printed on a sign that was recently erected outside Warren Town Hall, welcoming visitors to “Sowams, the ancestral home of the Pokanoket people.”

It’s one of several new historic markers that have gone up around town in recent years, all highlighting the history of Warren’s native people, and the town’s role in the slave trade.

Cronin and others credited the work of David Weed, the coordinator for the Sowams Heritage Area project, who hopes to see the equivalent of the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor established in the region.

“There’s a lot of history here,” Weed said. “People drive by it every day but don’t really know the whole story.”

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