The New Student's Reference Work/Narragansetts
Narragansetts, a tribe of Indians belonging to the great Algonquin family. When New England was settled, they lived in what now is Rhode Island. They then numbered 7,000 or 8,000, but were more civilized and less warlike than other of the New England tribes. In 1621 Canonicus, their sachem, sent a bundle of arrows tied with snakeskin to Plymouth, signifying hostility. Governor Bradford changed their purpose by promptly returning the skin filled with bullets and powder. Roger Williams went to them when exiled from Massachusetts, and had influence in their councils, persuading them to peace in 1636, when they again were hostile to the whites. In King Philip's War, more than 30 years afterward, they were believed to be aiding the enemy, and the English, with the Mohegans and Pequots, burned their fort. They retaliated and a large force was sent to punish the hostile Narragansetts, and they were nearly exterminated. The few who remained became civilized, lived in peace with the whites, and lost their native language. There are now only about 150 Narragansetts.