NARRAGANSETT—The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and the Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced Wednesday the purchase of 52 acres along Salt Pond in Narragansett, which have been discovered to hold significant, pre-colonial Native American material.
The site has been the subject of intense litigation, since its discovery in 1991, between the state and private developer Downing/Salt Pond Partners, who wanted to build 54 housing units on the land.
“As a state, we have made a commitment to protect our unique heritage,” Attorney General Kilmartin said in a statement. “Through this acquisition, we have preserved one of the most important Narragansett Indian archeological sites in our state, while also providing additional open space in this ecologically sensitive area of Rhode Island.”
Significant traces of a Native American village were found during construction, including storage pits and human burials alongside utilitarian implements such as stone tools and ceramics, more than 2,000 artifacts to date. The site, called Salt Pond RI 110, represents a rare example of village life prior to the European settlement of North America, which preservationists and the Narragansett Indian Tribe deem the most important pre-Colonial find in the Northeast.
“It became readily apparent from the initial archaeology that was required to be done from Downing/Salt Pond Partners that this was an extremely important site,” said Gregory Schultz, the attorney representing the attorney general’s office in litigation against Downing/Salt Pond Partners. “They have already discovered evidence of 22 dwelling sites, all sorts of dwelling pits, burial sites, there are some very interesting items.”
“The state historic office has indicated in testimony that they believe [RI 110] is the home site of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, so to them, this site is of extreme importance,” he added.
The purchase has been made in exchange for and archeological site that will remain untouched which rests below the Providence Viaduct project, which involves the replacement of a 1,290 foot bridge that brings I-95 past the Providence Place Mall.
For the rest of this story and more local news, pick up the August 15 issue of the Standard Times.