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Original Inhabitants of Rhode Island

Scientific evidence indicates the presence of Native Americans in the area that is today Rhode Island as long ago as 8,000 years. At the time of European exploration, the resident tribes subsisted on hunting and fishing supplemented by some agriculture. The major tribes, all part of the Algonkian language group, included:

  • the Narragansett, the largest and most powerful group
  • the Wampanoag, who occupied many islands and the eastern side of Narragansett Bay
  • the Nipmuc, a weak tribe which occupied northern Rhode Island and into neighboring areas
  • the Nitantic, who had by driven out of Connecticut and resided in southwestern Rhode Island
  • the Pequot, who were centered mostly in Connecticut, but extended into western Rhode Island.

See Indian Wars.
See also Native American Cultural Regions map.