Brown University Reaches Agreement With Protestors Over Tribal Lands

Sep 25, 2017

The Native American group that camped out for weeks on land owned by Brown University has ended their demonstration. The university and the group reached an agreement late last week.

The group, which calls itself the Pokanoket Nation, camped out on Bristol’s Mount Hope for a month. Members called for Brown to return the land to the tribe. The 375 acres of waterfront land was a center for the Pokanoket people in the years before the American Revolution. Brown has owned the property since the 1950s.

The university says portions of it will be placed in a preservation trust, to remain undeveloped and managed by several indigenous groups, including the Pokanoket.

Brown University administrator Russell Carey helped facilitate the agreement and said the university will help organize a survey of the land.

“Both a land survey and a cultural resources survey, to determine what amount of the land should be placed in the trust,” said Carey. “And then we will do so. And the tribe will be working with others to establish a governance organization for that trust.”

Carey said the details of any agreement have yet to be hammered out, and other Native groups with ties to the land will be asked to participate in those discussions.

“The exact nature of the trust and the governance that makes that happen is something that they’re going to have to work out,” said Carey. “We’re certainly willing to help in that process as we’re requested to do so, but it really is for them to work out.”

The Pokanoket are not federally recognized, and leaders say they are separate from other indigenous groups in the area.  

A large collection of Native American artifacts are currently housed in Brown University facilities on the land, which will not be moved says Carey.