Nahahiganseck Language Committee

Grantee:  Nahahiganseck Language Committee
Location:  Charleston, R.I.
Award:  Mobilizing the Community Through the Arts
Discipline:  “Preserving Nahahiganseck Language Through Song”
Web Site:  N/A

The Nahahiganseck Language Committee fosters the continuity, revival and integration of the Narragansett language into the community.

The Narragansett Indian Tribe re-affirmed their sovereignty as a Native Nation in 1983, gaining federal-recognition to honor a treaty negotiated in 1880. In 1978, the State of Rhode Island settled out of court to return 1,800 acres of land to the tribe. In 2011, the Native Nation’s Nahahiganseck Language Committee was awarded a Mobilizing the Community Award from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

For the burgeoning community of 2,400 citizens, foundation support funded Preserving Nahahiganseck Language Through Song, a project to teach the Indigenous language via song. Community members created new music to accompany songs written by the Narragansett tribal members. The committee engaged singers and musicians with the community, including Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Kreisberg, Christopher Robertson, Kiowa Spears and Thawn Harris. The project team produced eight songs, distributed via the internet and 400 CDs to community members actively learning Nahahiganseck.

Support from the foundation allowed the tribal language department to increase Nahahiganseck language use critical in maintaining cultural practices and Indigenous identity. The tribal language preservation project helped to empower tribal members, increase self-esteem and community solidarity. Over 70 tribal members participated in the workshops.

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