Brown U. and Native American Tribe End Standoff Over Land

Brown University and members of a group that identifies as Native American have reached an agreement concerning 375 acres of university land on which the group had encamped, Brown said on Monday in a news release.

The Native American group, the Pokanoket tribe, set up camp on the land, in Bristol, R.I., on August 20. The tribe asserted that the land belonged to the Pokanoket people by ancestral right.

Later members of a faculty committee in Brown’s program in Native American and indigenous studies issued a statement that outlined, among other things, the difference between a group that has an indigenous background and a federally recognized tribe. The committee members drew criticism for describing the Pokanokets’ history and how the group is not federally recognized.

Now the university and the Pokanoket tribe members have signed an agreement that will transfer part of Brown’s Bristol property into a preservation trust to “ensure the conservation of the land and sustainable access by Native tribes in the region,” the news release states.

The tribe members will also end their encampment on Monday, and will not establish another one while the land is being surveyed and a governance structure is established to manage the trust. The survey will determine how much land will be placed into the trust.

“We have worked together with the encamped Pokanoket people in good faith to address their concerns in ways responsive to the concerns of other tribes as well, which was a foremost priority for Brown,” said Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy, in the news release.

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