The struggle for the land of Potumtuk is entering a new phase in Rhode Island.
On September 25 the Po Metacom Camp was closed after the Pokanoket Tribe reached an agreement with Brown University on a process to transfer over the lands of Potumtuk (also known as Mt. Hope) to a tribal controlled trust. The Po Metacom Camp had directly controlled the land for 35 days.
Long before the self-proclaimed Pokanoket Nation and its supporters occupied Brown University land in Bristol, members of the tribe held a ceremony on the property overlooking Mount Hope Bay to formally reclaim what they say is their ancestral home.
On March 20, 2016, led by their sagamore, or chief, William Guy, who is known by his tribal name Po Wauipi Neimpaug, they planted the Pokanoket flag in the ground — a star above a seven-crested rainbow — and posted a sign declaring a “Day of Reversion.”
″… to repatriate lands that where [sic] illegally taken and have been environmentally denigrated as a result of being illegally alienated from the rightful ownership and control of the Pokanoket Tribe for the past 340 years,” the sign said.
The property manager for the grounds of Brown’s Haffenreffer Museum collections center took down the sign and flag and put them in storage. What happened next is in dispute. Brown says the manager directed the tribe to the appropriate office at the Ivy League school to discuss the land claim. The Pokanokets say they never heard anything.
The Pokanekets released this statement regarding the agreement and also this statement from Students and Alumni for Po Metacom Camp.
While the camp has been closed for now, the struggle is far from over. Now it’s time to hold Brown University accountable to the agreement and make sure that they transfer all 375 acres of land that they own at Mt. Hope to the tribal trust.
Thank you to all who have supported the Pokanokets and the Po Metacom Camp with your time, energy, donations and supplies. The camp would not have been possible without you. We will provide more updates on the campaign as things develop.