The Pokanoket Nation and supporters marched on Brown University Tuesday “to reclaim the sacred land of Potumtuk (also known as Mt. Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island).” The march was timed to be highly visible to incoming students during Brown’s convocation, a traditional event in which students march through the University’s gates. Four incoming students, of the many hundreds entering Brown, left the line and joined the Pokanoket protest.
The Pokanokets have been occupying the land in Bristol since August 20 and want Brown to give it back to them. Last Wednesday Brown University proposed a “path forward” towards settling the dispute. Brown University made the process contingent upon the Pokanoket encampment being “completely cleared from the Bristol property.” The Pokanokets rejected this path.
Brown University and the Pokanokets are still negotiating.
Sagamore Po Wauipi Neimpaug opened the march on the University saying that, “This has been a long time coming. We’ve tried to engage the powers that be in this state and they just won’t talk, so they’ve actually pushed us to this point.
“There are just too many American Indians who are not recognized by this government,” continued the Sagamore. “They [Brown University] have actually lied about the history here. But there’s no reason that anyone should not know the history of our people… with the onset of the internet and the web, the information is there. In my time, I’m in my 75th year on this earth, it wasn’t that easy to get that information…
“I know that Brown will do the right thing.”
The march started at Brown St Park behind Hope High School. The marchers chanted and sang behind a large banner that read, “Mt. Hope is Pokanoket Land.” The marchers picked up a Providence Police escort before turning on Hope St and then Thayer St before eventually arriving at the Brown University gates.There was a large Providence Police and Brown University security presence at the scene when the Pokanokets arrived.
As was planned, the event was noisy but respectful of Brown’s convocation and there were no incidents.
A scene from outside the gates as incoming Brown students waited for the convocation to begin.
Music and chants during the march: