Pokanoket Tribal Historian Donald R. Brown, Jr. joined Sowams Heritage Area Project Coordinator Dr. David Weed for a 90-minute presentation to members of the Touisset Point Community Club in Warren, RI on November 14, 2021. Click here for a 23-minute video of Dr. Weed’s introductory remarks.
Club President Sheri Smith welcomes over thirty people to the event before Warren American Indian Study Committee member Jacque Russom welcomes the speakers.
Dr. Weed begins with an introduction to the Sowams Heritage Area by pointing out the sculpture over the door of the Warren Town Hall that references the 1621 treaty with the Massasoit Ousamequin and the visit to Sowams by Edward Winslow and Stephen Hopkins.
Pokanoket Historian Don Brown describes the history of the Tribe following the King Philip War where his ancestors were forced to hide their identity as Pokanokets as it was illegal to speak the language or otherwise identify as a member of the Tribe until late in the 20th century.
Mr. Brown describes how members of his family would “pass” as Sicilian in order to obtain employment in the 20th century or identify as Narragansett in order to avoid being seen as Pokanoket.
A marriage certificate for Don’s great uncle was altered from identifying him as Indian to “Colored” until his protest restored his rightful identity. Members of the audience ask Don questions following his presentation which was warmly received.