The Sowams Heritage Area Project is undertaking an initiative to develop a National Heritage Area (NHA) in Sowams, the ancestral homeland of the Massasoit Ousamequin who welcomed the Pilgrims in 1621. The project is led by a regional coalition of town planners, tourism entities, historical societies, environmentalists, Tribal leaders, and other volunteers from the nine towns and cities that today comprise Sowams, along the northeastern shore of Narragansett Bay. NHAs protect and promote a region’s history, heritage and culture and use those assets to advance local economies through tourism, recreation and community development.
Sowams is the setting of one of America’s origin stories, the critical alliance that established 50 years of peace between the Indigenos Tribes that had fished, farm and hunted the region for millennia and the English settlers arriving on the Mayflower. Sowams is also ground zero for the fracturing of that alliance during the devastating King Philip’s War. At the heart of that conflict lay differing world views of law, land and water. In Sowams, the legacy of those differences and the way in which people have valued and used the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay has shaped the complex history of the region from prehistory to the present.
A program of the National Park Service, National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are living, working, landscapes, which are designated by Congress to honor the important role of a region in our country’s development and celebrate its contributions to American history and culture. Through dynamic public-private partnerships, NHAs provide a way to recognize, share, and conserve a region’s significant history and outstanding qualities.