Narragansett, Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Part of the Eastern Woodlands culture (see under Natives, North American), in the early 17th cent. they occupied most of Rhode Island, from Narragansett Bay on the east to the Pawcatuck River on the west. They were the largest and strongest tribe in New England. The Narragansett escaped the great pestilence of 1617 that swept through S New England, and the remnants of tribes who had suffered joined them for protection, making the Narragansett a powerful people. In 1636, Canonicus, the Narragansett chief, sold Roger Williams land on which to settle. Williams gained great influence over the Narragansett, inducing them to become the allies of the Massachusetts colonists in the Pequot War (1637). The Narragansett in 1674 numbered some 5,000. The next year witnessed the outbreak of King Philip's War, which destroyed Native American power in S New England. The Narragansett shared the common fate. Their fort near the site of Kingston, R.I., was attacked (1675) by a colonial force under Josiah Winslow, and in that engagement, known as the Great Swamp Fight, the Narragansett under Canonchet lost almost a thousand men. The survivors migrated to the north and to the west, and a few joined the Mahican and the Abnaki; but a number of them returned and settled among the Niantic near Charlestown, R.I., the combined group taking the Narragansett name. Their numbers steadily declined, and by 1832 there were 80 left. However, by 1990 there were about 2,500 Narragansett in the United States.
Narragansett is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 16,361 at the 2000 census. The nickname for the town is 'Gansett.

For geographic and demographic information on the village of Narragansett Pier, which is part of Narragansett, see the article Narragansett Pier.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 37.8 square miles (97.8 km²), of which, 14.1 square miles (36.6 km²) of it is land and 23.6 square miles (61.2 km²) of it (62.56%) is water.

The following villages and neighborhoods are wholly or partially located in Narragansett: Saunderstown (shared with North Kingstown), South Ferry, Bonnet Shores, Narragansett Pier, Point Judith, Galilee, Great Island, Salt Pond, Mettatuxet, and Jerusalem (shared with South Kingstown).


As of the census of 2000, there were 16,361 people, 6,846 households, and 3,847 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,156.5 people per square mile (446.4/km²). There were 9,159 housing units at an average density of 647.4/sq mi (249.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.84% White, 0.75% African American, 0.90% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.25% of the population.

There were 6,846 households out of which 22.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.8% were non-families. 27.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the town the population was spread out with 17.3% under the age of 18, 19.6% from 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $50,363, and the median income for a family was $67,571. Males had a median income of $45,436 versus $31,759 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,194. About 4.9% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.4% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.


Narragansett is known for its summer recreation and beaches.

Three beaches that are most famous are:

  • Narragansett Town Beach is located in the center of Narragansett, though it charges a fee, whereas other local beaches are free.
  • Scarborough State Beach: The Scarborough Beach Complex comprises two separate areas, the North and South. Each has a pavilion, showers, 75 picnic tables, boardwalk and observation tower.
  • Roger Wheeler State Beach

National Historic Places in Narragansett


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