July 14 is a sacred day to the indigenous people of Rhode Island. It was on this day in 2003 that Governor Don Carcieri sent state troopers to raid the three-day-old smoke shop because the Narragansett Tribe was flouting Rhode Island tobacco laws. Some 51 police officers were deployed to the make-shift, tin building along a rural stretch of old Route 2. A rumble ensued and tribal elders were arrested.
And so every July 14 the tribal offices, the health center and the daycare at the Narragansett Indian Reservation are all closed. But the public is welcome to the site of the now-infamous Smoke Shop Raid.
They asked me not to shoot video of the ceremony itself (so you’ll have to go next year to see what that’s all about!) but here’s my best attempt to tell the Narragansett’s side of this story: