Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island


A dispute between tribes and the state Department of Transportation is threatening to hold up several projects. It began over how the tribe should be compensated for monitoring archaeological digs to ensure Indian burial sites are preserved. The DOT agreed to pay them, but the department says the tribe asked for more money. Then, other tribes started to ask for similar payments. The two sides now have a revised contract, which the Narragansetts have yet to sign. Until they do, the DOT can't break ground on a Portsmouth park at a Revolutionary War memorial to black soldiers. The department has decided to compensate only federally recognized tribes. "At this point in time, if you are not a federally recognized tribe, we will give you the opportunity to observe, but we're not going to pay you," DOT Director William Ankner told The Providence Journal. Of seven tribes claiming ancestral lands in Rhode Island, three have federal recognition - the Narragansetts, the Massachusetts-based Aquinnah Wampanoags and the Mashantucket Pequots of Connecticut. Ankner said most DOT projects are on schedule, but more could be delayed if the archaeological work isn't started soon. Ankner said he would consider ending the contractual relationship with the Narragansetts if there is much further delay.