On Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, Brown University and the present-day Pokanoket Tribe members encamped since Aug. 20, 2017, on property in Bristol, Rhode Island, signed an agreement regarding the land.
[Update: “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 at Brown, and the principal negotiator for the University. “We’re very pleased that the Pokanoket have agreed to engage other Native tribes to establish a trust that will both preserve this land and ensure sustainable access to its sacred sites in a way that is inclusive of other Native peoples. This was Brown’s goal.”]
Here’s the agreement:
“Brown University acknowledges that the Mt Hope lands to which it has record title in Bristol, Rhode Island are historically Pokanoket and that part of the land contains sacred sites that are important to the present-day Pokanoket Tribe and Pokanoket people, who are dispersed among many tribes, and other Native American, American Indian, and aboriginal peoples of New England.
“Brown University commits to the orderly transfer of a to-be-determined amount of the lands into a preservation trust, or similar entity, which will ensure appropriate Stewardship and management of this unique historical, sacred and natural resource for generations to come. The goal of Brown University’s commitment is the conservation and preservation of, and sustainable access to the land that is placed in preservation trust. While the amount of land to be placed into the preservation trust will need to be determined through the processes described below, the University is committed to identifying and transferring an amount of land that is substantial, Sufficient, and appropriate to meet these goals.
“Brown University commits to fund and complete a cultural resources Survey to determine the amount and boundaries of the land to be placed in the preservation trust. Brown University is committed to completing the survey as expeditiously as possible. The cultural resources survey will be conducted in a manner that provides for input and engagement from all parties with a historical interest in the land, including full and transparent access to the report and any other survey output before any final determinations are made.
“Brown University commits to promptly commission and fund a land survey to begin the process of determining the configuration of the land to be placed in trust and the land to be retained by the University. To this end, the University has already reached out to a land surveyor to discuss the commencement of the survey. All parties with a historical interest in the land will have full and transparent access to the report and any other Survey output before any final determinations are made.
“The present-day Pokanoket Tribe currently encamped on the Mt. Hope property commits to initiate and engage in a process with the other tribes with a historical interest in this land (other Pokanoket peoples, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Assonet Band of the Wampanoag Nation, the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, the Pocasset Tribe of the Pokanoket Nation, and other appropriate parties) who are willing to cooperatively participate in such a process. The Pokanoket Tribe will invite the above parties to meet and resolve all issues in a traditional manner. To the extent that it thereafter may be required, Brown University is willing to help identify and support a mediator to assist in facilitating an agreement among the parties.
“The goal of the process will be to arrive at consensus regarding a governance and organizational structure which can oversee and ensure appropriate stewardship and management of the preservation trust. Brown University is available to support this process as needed and requested.
“Brown University commits to providing support and participation, as appropriate, in the process. However, the onus is on the Pokanoket Tribe currently encamped on the Mt Hope property and the other tribes who are willing to cooperatively engage in good faith, with the assistance of a mediator, if necessary, to determine and agree upon a viable governance and organizational structure that will enable the University to transfer the to-be-determined amount of land into the preservation trust.
“The Pokanoket Tribe commits to ending the ongoing encampment they are conducting on the lands in Bristol and to refrain from reestablishing the encampment while the Surveys and the process described above are underway and being conducted in good faith and a respectful manner.
“Upon mutual agreement of the terms outlined in this agreement Brown University commits to make a public statement announcing these commitments contemporaneously with the termination and clearing of the encampment from the Bristol property.
“During the process, Brown University will grant reasonable cultural access, including visiting the property from time to time for purposes primarily related to the historical and cultural elements of the Land, to all parties with a historical interest in the Land. Persons seeking such access should check in with the personnel at Mount Hope Farm.”