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US Department of the Interior requests letters of interest for Roger Williams National Historic Site Ethnographic Study

The Northeast Region Archeology and Ethnography Program is interested in conducting an Ethnographic Overview and Assessment (EOA) for Roger Williams National Memorial (ROWI). Partners of the national Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit Network (CESU: http://www.cesu.psu.edu) are invited to respond to this request for Letters of Research Interest.

The project will provide baseline ethno historical and ethnographic documentation of the historic and contemporary relationships and associations Native Americans have with the site of Roger Williams National Memorial (ROWI). The 4.5 acre site is nationally significant due in large part to Williams’ significant contributions to the “principles of freedom” in the United States that were incorporated into the founding documents of our nation a century later.

At least some of these principles of freedom were practiced and reflected in his treatment and interaction with Native American peoples in the 17th century. Williams mediated colonial interests among the Native people, particularly the Narragansett and Wampanoag. Williams was one of the first to write objectively about native lifeways and practices, accurately describing the political organization of the Narragansett. Further, Williams provided a moving portrait of Narragansett leaders in his correspondences and mediated diplomatic crises between colonists and the native people. As a linguist, Williams’ study of the Narragansett and Algonquin languages, culminated in the first published study of an Amerindian language in English.

The project will culminate in the development of an Ethnographic Overview and Assessment (EOA) for ROWI. This document will enhance the park’s and the public’s understanding of Williams’ associations with Native Americans and Williams’ notions of civil rights and equality among human beings which was demonstrated in his positions regarding Native American land rights and “soul liberty.

The study will identify the roles, relationships, associations, and significance specific Native American Indian tribes and/or nations attach to ROWI. The project will provide a meaningful exchange of knowledge and ideas that will enhance scholarly research and the park’s and public’s understanding of ROWI, will identify which Native American tribes and/or nations attach cultural meaning and significance to ROWI, will identify areas of shared interest and/or scholarship, and will identify other areas in which future consultation and cooperation is desired, warranted, or requested. An important goal of this project will be to represent holistically and with objectivity the legacy of Roger Williams from a tribal perspective.

For more information, please refer to Request Letters of Interest. The deadline for responding to this letter of interest is March 25, 2016.

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