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Native Languages of the Americas: Narragansett (Nipmuc)

Language: Narragansett was an Algonkian language, closely related to Mohegan (Pequot) and Massachusett (Wampanoag). Some linguists consider Narragansett a dialect of one of those two languages, while others consider it a distinct language. Either way, Narragansett was spoken by the Nipmuc and Narragansett tribes, while Mohegan was spoken by the other so-called Mohegan tribes. Unfortunately none of these languages has been natively spoken for more than a century, though some young people are interested in reviving their use.

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People: The Narragansett are considered by most historians to be a sub-tribe of the Mohegans, though their language may have been closer to that of the Wampanoag. The Narragansett tribe, like the Niantic, Nipmuc, Montauk, and Pequot, was originally a distinct and independent nation. However, due to heavy population losses and aggressive colonial expansion, the Indian tribes of New England were scattered, merged, and assimilated to such a degree that they lost their languages and much of their individual tribal characters. In particular, the Narragansett, Nipmuc, and Niantic tribes were driven together under the general Mohegan rubric; other Narragansetts took refuge with the Abenakis or Stockbridge Indians, assimilating into those cultures. The Narragansett only regained official tribal status in 1985, though they never stopped practicing their culture within their communities. There are about 2500 Narragansetts in Rhode Island today, including those of Niantic, Nipmuc, and Pequot descent, and 2500 other Mohegans (including some with Narragansett ancestry) in Connecticut and Long Island.

Narragansett Language Resources
Narragansett/Nipmuc language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Narragansett Culture and History Directory
Information and links about the Narragansett Indian tribe.

Nipmuc Culture and History Directory
Information and links about the Nipmuc tribe.

Narragansett Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Narraganset Indians and their culture.

Nipmuc Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Nipmuc Indians and their culture.

Narragansett Legends
Introduction to Narragansett and Nipmuc Indian mythology.

Narragansett Language Resources

Our Online Narragansett Language Materials

Narragansett Vocabulary:
    List of vocabulary words in the Narragansett language, with comparison to words in other Algonquian languages.
Narragansett-Wampanoag Language Revival:
    Series of language revival articles, orthography and vocabulary charts by Dr. Frank Waabu O’Brien.
Narragansett Animal Words:
    Picture dictionary of animal words in the Narragansett Indian language.

Narragansett Language Learning Resources
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links

A Key into the Language of America:
    Roger Williams' 1643 Narraganset Indian vocabulary for sale
Indian Language Dictionaries:
    Narragansett and other American Indian dictionaries and language materials for sale.

Narragansett Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Nipmuc Place Names of New England:
    Article on the historical Nipmuck and Narragansett place names of Connecticut and Massachusetts.
    Demographic information about Narragansett from the Ethnologue of Languages
Mohegan-Montauk-Narragansett Language Map * Massachusett-Narragansett Language Map:
    Theories about Narragansett's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Mohican Language:
    Mohican and Narragansett links.

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Additional Resources, Links, and References

   Lengua Narragansett:
   Information about the Mohegan and Narragansett languages in Spanish.
  Narragansett Tribe:
  Narragansett Indian books.

Learn more about the Mohegan and Narragansett Indian tribes
Go back to the list of Indian tribes
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