Narragajvsetts, an Algonquin tribe of American Indians, who occupied the territory now comprised in Rhode Island. They were less warlike and more industrious than the Pequots. They had 12 towns within a distance of 20 m., and were very numerous. In 1621 their chief Canonicus sent to Plymouth a bundle of arrows tied with a snake skin, indicating hostile intentions. Gov. Bradford returned the skin rilled with powder and shot, which seemed to have a quieting effect. In 1636 Roger Williams won the Narragansetts to peace, and they made a treaty and cooperated with Mason against the Pequots. In 1644 Gorton induced them to cede their lands to the king. They engaged in hostilities in 1645, but submitted to a treaty Sept. 5, agreeing to pay indemnity to the colonies. In King Philip's war they were suspected of aiding their old enemies the Pokanokets, and a force of 1,000 men, with 150 Mohegans and Pequots, captured and burned their fortress. Canonchet, their chief, then cut off two English parties and destroyed many frontier villages, but was at last taken by Denison and shot. A large force was then sent to crush the tribe.
Their chief fortress, on an island in a swamp in South Kingston, was taken after a stubborn fight, and it was estimated that 1,000 men, women, and children were killed; the colonial loss was 230. This war almost exterminated the Narragansetts. The remnant settled at Charles-town, R. I., and prospered. In 1822 there were 407 on their reserve of 3,000 acres, with a missionary, a church, and 50 pupils at school. In 1833 they had declined to 158, only 7 being of pure Narragansett blood. Their language is preserved in Roger Williams's " Key into the Language of America," etc. (London, 1643).