Narragansett Native Americans

April 11, 2013 by  

Narragansett Native Americans, The Narragansett tribe are an Algonquian Native American tribe from Rhode Island. In 1983 descendants of tribal members identified in an 1880 treaty gained federal recognition as the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island and re-established sovereignty.

In 2009, the United States Supreme Court ruled against their request that the Department of Interior take land into trust which they had acquired in 1991. The Court ruled that tribes that had achieved federal recognized since the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act did not have standing to have newly acquired lands taken into federal trust and removed from state control.

Recognized by the federal government in 1983, the Narragansett tribe controls the Narragansett Indian Reservation, 1,800 acres (7.3 km2) of trust lands in Charlestown, Rhode Island. A small portion of the tribe resides on or near the reservation, whose population is 60, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Additionally, they own several hundred acres in Westerly.

In 1991 the Narragansett purchased 31 acres (130,000 m2) in Charlestown for development of elderly housing. In 1998 they requested that the Department of Interior take the property into trust on behalf of the tribe, to remove it from state and local control. The case went to the United States Supreme Court, as the state challenged the removal of new lands from state oversight by tribes recognized after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. Rhode Island was joined in its appeal by twenty-one other states.

In 2009, the US Supreme Court ruled that tribes that achieved federal recognition after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act could not have the Department of Interior take their lands acquired after federal recognition into trust and remove them from state control. Their determination was based on four words in the act, referring to its definition of “Indian” as “all persons of Indian descent who are members of any recognized tribe now under federal jurisdiction.” (emphasis added)

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