Community

Roger Williams’ Legacy, Rededicated

The monument commemorating Williams’ meeting with the Narragansetts has been restored

East Side Monthly Magazine ·

On September 22, friends and neighbors of the Fox Point community gathered to rededicate the monument that stands in commemoration of Roger Williams’ landing in Providence. It was this spot, where in 1636 Williams was greeted by members of the Narragansett tribe.

The monument at Roger Williams Landing Park, which was built in 1906, was vandalized in 1996, resulting in the plaques being removed by the Parks Department. Over the years, the plaques were lost, so the Fox Point Neighborhood Association (FPNA) raised $8,000 last year to go towards recreating the originals.

“Our members gave their own money so that these plaques could be restored. It just seems amazing to me, but we got here,” said John Rousseau, secretary of the FPNA.

The Parks Department in turn was able to leverage the remaining funds for the project, which was executed by artist Robert Shure of Skylight Studios. Using archival photos, the plaques were recreated as faithfully as possible.
“A great deal of work went into making this possible,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza, who was present for the rededication. “This is such an important part of our heritage and our community.”

Also present at the rededication was Silvermoon LaRose of the Narragansett nation and assistant director at the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter. LaRose provided historical context for the significance of the meeting between Williams and the Narragansetts, pointing out that Williams had been committed to learning and preserving their language and customs. Remembered as an early advocate for religious tolerance, Williams saw no difference between indigenous people and Europeans in the “eyes of God,” and though a devout Christian, argued against forced conversion of the Narragansett.

“As a Narragansett I’m grateful for his foresight in capturing the language and cultural ways of our people in writing,” said LaRose. “Some of these things may have been lost to us forever were it not for his contribution.”

Roger Williams Landing Park is located on Gano Street between Power and Williams streets.

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