Economic

Despite the clause in the original purchase of Aquidneck Island, the record clearly shows that Native Americans did not remove from the island upon settlement by the British. The examples here show that native people were actively involved in commerce and economic activity with British settlers over the century following the original settlement of Portsmouth and Newport.

Carver Chair (c. 1660-1700)

Carver chair, made in Newport, Rhode Island. Carver chairs are a style of armchair native to 17th century New England characterized by turned wood elements. The chair features a braided cornhusk seat that was likely woven by local Native American craftsmen. The chair was originally owned by the Brown family of Little Compton, which had economic ties to nearby Aquidneck Island.

Loan from Newport Restoration Foundation (L.2020.001.001)

Petty Ledger, Christopher Champlin (1768)

Ledger page showing two accounts between Christopher Champlin and Native American individuals. The first shows William Sachem, identified as an Indian man of Charlestown, borrowing cash to pay fees to Mr. Honeyman.

The second, Thomas Ephraim, also identified as

an Indian man of Charlestown, purchases various goods, including a hat and a thick cap as well as borrowing cash.  

 

Newport Historical Society Collection (Volume 708)

Order, Thomas Ninegrett to Christopher Champlin (November 15, 1764)

Here Thomas Ninegrett, sachem of the Niantic tribe, orders materials including “1000 20d nails” and “cloth enough for one jacket.” He requests that Christopher Champlin charge the goods to his account.

 

Newport Historical Society Collection (Box 74, Folder 6)

Indenture, Indian Sam

(June 14, 1687)

This indenture was between “Stephen Brayton of Portsmouth on Rhode Island in Providence Plantations on this one part & an Indian called Sam inhabiting in said Portsmouth.” The document stipulates that Sam will serve one year under Brayton during which Brayton will provide “sufficient meat, drinks, washing and lodging” as well as “sufficient apparrill for such a servant.” Brayton also agrees that “at the end of his said term to set his said servant free from servitude.”

 

Newport Historical Society Collection (Box 55, Folder 9)

Indenture, Thomas Potter to James Cooper Jr.

(May 29, 1744)

In this document, Thomas Potter, identified as “an Indian man of South Kingstown,” indentures himself to James Cooper Jr. “of his own free will and accord.” Potter agrees to be a faithful servant for one full year, and he will be provided with “sufficient meat, drink, clothing and lodging suitable and fitting for such a servant.” Further, upon completion of the term of service, Potter will receive 35 pounds compensation.

 

Newport Historical Society Collection (Box 55, Folder 9)