Facts about the Narragansett Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Narragansett Native American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Narragansett tribe live, what clothes did they wear and what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Narragansett tribe with facts about their wars and history.
What language did the Narragansett tribe speak?
The Narragansett tribe spoke in a related dialect of the Algonquian language family. The meaning of the name 'Narragansett' is "People of the small point" in respect of the location of their homelands.
What was the lifestyle and culture of the Narragansett tribe?
The Narragansett tribe were a large, strong warlike people who inhabited nearly all of present Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts, numbering over 10,000 warriors. The Narragansett people organized were highly organized with a grand sachem (chief) and eight lower ranking hereditary sachems who usually resided in the largest winter village of longhouses. The were expert farmers who raised large fields of corn, beans, and squash. The Narragansett people avoided the first diseases brought to North America by the Europeans but lost many of their people to smallpox in 1633. They were at first were hostile to the newcomers but Chief Canonicus was more friendly towards the Europeans and sold land in Rhode Island to the dissident colonist Roger Williams. Conflict between the two cultures was, however, inevitable as the British made further encroachments on their lands and tried to convert the people to Christianity and establishing the 'Praying towns'. The Pequot War (1634-1638) was followed by conflict with the Mohegan tribe over Pequot lands and the Narragansett then became involved in King Philip's War and were subjected to massacres by the British. By 1682 less than 500 Narragansett people remained.
Where did the Narragansett tribe live?
The Narragansett are people of the Northeast Woodland Native American cultural group. The location of their tribal homelands are shown on the map. The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Narragansett tribe.
- The Northeast Woodland region extended mainly across the New England States, lower Canada, west to Minnesota, and north of the Ohio River
- Land: Lush woodlands, rivers, ocean
- Climate: The climate varied according to the location of the tribe
- Land Animals: The animals included squirrel, white-tailed deer, raccoon, bears, beavers, moose, and caribou
- Fish and Sea Mammals: Whales, Seal, Fish and shell fish
- Crops: The crops grown in the area were corn (maize), pumpkin, squash, beans and tobacco
- Trees: Poplar, birch, elm, maple, oak, pine, fir trees and spruce
Map showing location of the Northeast or
Eastern Woodland Indians Cultural Group
and the Narragansett tribe
What did the Narragansett tribe live in?
The Narragansett tribe lived in temporary summer lodges called a wetu aka Wigwam. These were small cone-shaped selters with an arched roof built using a wooden frame from saplings (young trees) that were covered with sheets of birchbark. Wide sheets of bark from large, older trees covered the frames of the wigwams, which were held in place by ropes. These summer wigwams were covered with woven mats made from tall cattail plants. Their permanent winter lodges were in fortified villages of Longhouses, which were also built using birchbark.
What food did the Narragansett tribe eat?
The food that the Narragansett tribe ate included included the staple crops called the "three sisters" which were corn, beans and squash. These crops were supplements with berries, nuts fruits, Jerusalem artichokes, pumpkins, and zucchini. Meat included deer (venison), black bear, rabbit, squirrel, duck, grouse, geese, muskrat, beaver, otter, raccoon and turkey. Fish included haddock, salmon, cod, flounder and mackerel. Shellfish was readily available and included oysters, clams, lobsters and scallops. Nuts, berries and grapes were also important food source to the Narragansett.
What weapons did the Narragansett use?
The weapons used by the Narragansett included war clubs, tomahawks, battle hammers, knives, bows and arrows, spears and axes. Their enemies were the Wampanoag tribe.
What Transportation did the Narragansett use? Dugout Canoes
Most Algonquian speaking Native Indians made birch bark or dugout canoes for transportation. Narragansett Native Americans built heavy dugout canoes made from the from hollowed-out logs of large trees. The Narragansett words relating to canoes were 'Mishittouwand' meaning "great canoe", 'Peewasu' meaning "small canoe" and 'Paugautemissaund' meaning " oak canoe".
What clothes did the Narragansett wear?
Before the Europeans traded cloth with the Native Indians the vast majority of clothes worn by the Narragansett were made from animal skins or birchbark. The animal skins include deer (buckskin) raccoon, beaver, otter and moose. The garments included long breechclouts, leggings, long cloaks and shorter shoulder to waist length mantles. Narragansett women wore wraparound skirts, dresses and warm buckskin cloaks during the winter. Their moccasins were made of one piece of hide with a long tongue and a high collar that could be left up or folded down. Belts were woven from dogbane and other plant fibers that were colored with vegetable dyes. Their headdresses consisted of a woven headband and topped with feathers as a sign of status.
What was the religion and beliefs of the Narragansett tribe?
The Green Corn Festival was one of the most important ceremonies of the Northeast Woodland Indians, including the Narragansett, when corn was presented as a sacred offering to the Great Spirit.