Narragansett is an Eastern Algonquian language that was spoken by the Nipmuc and Narragansett tribes in Rhode Island in the USA until the 19th century. In 1643 information about the Narragansett language was published in the Key Into the Language of America, a phrasebook by Roger Williams, founder of the Providence Plantations, which became the Colony of Rhode Island.
Due to conflict with colonists, the Narragansett people were scattered, and some took refuge with the Abenakis or with the Stockbridge Mochicans. They assimulated into those cultures and lost their language.
Today some members of the Narragansett tribe live on the Narragansett Indian Reservation in Charlestown, Rhode Island. The name Narragansett means "people of the little points and bays" or "(People) of the Small Point". Roger Williams spelled their name Nanhigganeuck.
Efforts are currently being made to revive Narragansett by the linguist Frank Waabu O’Brien (Moondancer) and others.
Some words borrowed into English from Narragansett, and from related languages like Wampanoag and Massachusett, include moose, papoose, powwow, squash and succotash.
Information about the Narragansett language and people
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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