Justice for the Pokanoket Nation

Target: Christina Paxson, President of Brown University

Goal: Open negotiations with the Pokanoket Nation over what they say is ancestral land.

A group who call themselves the Pokanoket Nation has occupied a portion of land surrounding Brown University’s Haffenreffer Museum, stating the area is “sacred land.” According to the Pokanoket’s head, Sagamore Po Wauipi Neimpaug, the land is the tribe’s “spiritual high grounds” and was once the site of their main village.

Brown has responded by stating it allows the Pokanoket access to the lands, which the university has owned for at least 60 years. However, tribe members say the land was illegally taken from their people hundreds of years ago.

For now, the Sagamore says the protesters just want to start a dialogue – something the university has indicated it is open to. “We want to talk to Brown,” the Sagamore said.

If you believe the university and tribe should immediately start negotiations on what to do with the land, please sign this petition.


Dear Dr. Paxson,

Brown University must find a mutually agreeable solution to its current land controversy with the Pokanoket Nation. The Pokanoket say the lands around Brown’s Haffenreffer Museum are sacred and were once the site of their tribal capital.

So far, the university has responded by vowing to continue to allow tribes access to the land, and has expressed openness to dialogue. We urge you to make good on your word and engage in free and open negotiations with the Pokanoket.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Shaun Williams

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  1. Donna Shook says:

    All kinds of people and “tribes” lost personal property and land hundreds of years ago. If people are suddenly allowed to retain property that their ancestors lost, everyone will be able to try and take land purchased outright currently. If this college purchased this land 60 years ago properly, they are the legal owners. This tribe should be going after whoever took the lands in the first place, which was England, to try and get reparations. As far as I know, Indians inhabited lands here in America hundreds of years ago. But, these days, when people own property, they actually have proof they own it. It is not this college’s fault that the land was taken so long ago. The only way I could support someone getting lands returned to them, if if the ancestors had proof that it was their land in the first place…documentation that they actually owned it. Back then, when many tribes flourished, Indian tribes fought wars against each other and would take the other’s land without their consent. So, they more than likely took some of their lands from other tribes long ago, as well. I have seen where peoples’ personal property and some land, depending on how it is being used now, have been returned to them (if they are still alive) or to their heirs, such as when Germany took Austria (if that is correct place) or any time during war, where a place was occupied and taken. Many people had documentation that the property was theirs, and went after the government or those who took it illegally, for reparations. England originally took this land from this tribe. This is the way of the world. According to research, this tribe didn’t even try to begin really forming a real tribe again until the early 1990’s. And, research also says that many of them are not original to the tribe now because their ancestors married Americans or people other other ethnicities, which makes them not truly Pokanoket. Now, these people are trying to form a Pokanoket tribe and take back lands from hundreds of years ago? This would set a bad precedent if allowed. It’s just getting crazy these days. Everyone thinks they are owed something if ancestors from hundreds of years prior were mistreated. In some cases, I could agree someone should get reparations, depending on circumstances. But, these people should not get to take this land from the college. They obviously don’t want reparations and won’t stop until they get the land. Smh ??‍♀️

  2. The land was never obtained legally from the Indians. After killingnoff Phillip Plymouth Colony, represented by a gentleman named Ingrahm, illegally transferred the title by literally breaking off a twig of a tree, picking up a clod of dirt, and handing it over to a man by the name of Williams. That’s not a legal transfer. So it doesn’t matter if Brown got it from legally, there was never a lawful transfer and the title isn’t clear. Stolen property is stolen property, no matter if you paid for it legally. This about respecting the law; plain and simple.

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