URI establishes scholarship for undergraduate students who are citizens of Narragansett Nation

$175,000 awarded to 15 current students

KINGSTON, R.I. – MAY 9, 2022 –The University of Rhode Island has established the Narragansett Undergraduate Scholarship for students who are citizens of the federally recognized Narragansett Nation.

The University has awarded $175,000 to 15 students this academic year. An additional 15 to 20 students will benefit from the program in fall 2022.

Funding will be increased each year as additional students receive awards. The awards are based on Narragansett Nation citizenship.

In 2017, members of the American Indian/Native American Advisory Council submitted a proposal to then-President David M. Dooley, advocating for tuition waivers for undergraduate students. The council said that as URI is a land-grant institution on the traditional homelands of the Narragansett Nation, waiving tuition for Narragansett tribal members would be a critical first step in creating opportunities for more Indigenous students to earn their degrees at the University.

“I am proud of everyone who helped bring this critical initiative to fruition,” said URI President Marc Parlange. “Acknowledging and respecting the original inhabitants of the land the University occupies is an important part of our mission and our values and I am pleased that we are able to honor and support members of the Narragansett Nation in this way.”

“As a Narragansett citizen and alumna of the University of Rhode Island, I am proud to be part of the team that worked hard to bring this to fruition and ensure access for future generations of Narragansett students,” said Lorén Spears ’89, Hon ’17, tri-chair of the council with Wanda Hopkins and William Ohley.

In the summer of 2021, the University’s senior leadership established the scholarship program, which took effect last fall. The scholarship covers full, in-state tuition and fees for up to four years for students with direct Narragansett Indian Tribal Nation membership/citizenship

who have been accepted to a URI undergraduate program (current students are also eligible). It also includes up to an additional $5,000 annual grant based on full-time enrollment.

“The Narragansett Scholarship has aided me in my ability to attend URI by paying for my tuition. Without it, I would not have been able to afford tuition. It also allowed me to be able to afford meals while I was on campus, “ said Nittaunis Baker ‘25, a marine biology major.

Chali Machado ‘23, a double major in anthropology and Africana studies, as well as a minor in underwater archaeology is also grateful for the scholarship.

“I am thankful for the University of Rhode Island and its acknowledgment toward the First Nations people of these lands, the Narragansett Tribal Nation,” said Machado. “I appreciate the generous monetary support of tribal members as they seek disciplines in the vast fields of academia. This award has opened many doors and has afforded possibilities to many native people.”

Recognizing that the scholarship is just the first step, the University through the Office of Admission, will hold a series of community information sessions to help students prepare and successfully plan for their higher education journey. For more information about the URI Narragansett Undergraduate Scholarship or admission sessions, please contact Undergraduate Admission.

The scholarship is one of several collaborative Indigenous initiatives spearheaded by the American Indian/Native American Advisory Council and members of the URI community. Others include a University land acknowledgment statement, institutional support for the Native American Student Organization, recruitment of Indigenous scholars, and Indigenous curriculum development. In addition, the Tomaquag Museum will relocate to the URI Kingston Campus in the next few years.

“The Narragansett Tribal scholarship gave me a sense of acknowledgment and recognition of not only me but all Narragansett students, our history, and our future presence on campus,” said animal science major Laurel Spears ‘22.