Our Team

Representing the nine cities/towns in the Sowams area, the Sowams Steering Committee is comprised of a coalition of Pokanoket leadership; town planners; representatives of tourism entities, historical societies, and museums; and other volunteers. Guiding the feasibility study is PointHDC, a national consulting firm that specializes in National Heritage Areas.

The story of Sowams can be told in many voices, but Sowams also reminds us of what has connected us for millennia: the land, the water, the sun, and each other.

Rock Singewald, member of the Warren Land Trust, on the Warren River, Warren, RI.

“I love the rivers and marshes in Sowams. Beautiful views in every direction.

I never get tired of exploring, whether walking along the shore or rowing with a friend.”

Rock Singewald, member of the Warren Land Trust, on the Warren River, Warren, RI.

Retired paster, Dr. Charles Hartman, on Nockum Hill in Barrington, RI.

“Nockum Hill is the site of the very first “Baptist” meeting house in North America (1667). As a Baptist, becoming the 44th settled pastor of the third Baptist community established on the continent (1663), was like swimming upstream to find my origins. I am proud to be a part of the Swansea story, which has such profound religious and historical significance. Here I came to appreciate who I am as a Baptist Christian and the heritage of the early Baptists.”

John Hansen, Swansea Town Planner, at King’s Rock in Swansea, MA

“I love how a public-private partnership yielded this new marker, which commemorates this historic site, and also yields economic benefits by bringing folks to the nearby Johnson’s Roadside Farm Market.” 

Dr. David Weed, Sowams Project Coordinator, in Burr’s Hill Park, Warren, RI

“There is so much wonderful history to discover in Sowams! The Royal Pokanoket Burial Ground on Burr’s Hill is where I began my now six-year journey to learn the history that no one ever tells you about!”  

Seekonk Town Planner John Aubin and volunteers at Gammino Pond Preserve, in Seekonk, MA

“My favorite thing about Sowams is the landscape and its people. The people of Sowams (past, present and future) are such a critical part of the history of this land and the country as a whole. I want to be able to help bring that story forward.”

Chelsea Johnston, Assistant Director, Carpenter Museum, in front of the Museum in Rehoboth, MA

“Having spent most of my life in the Sowams area, I have fallen in love with so much of the land and the rich culture. I’ve always been interested in how history is impacted by space and so getting to explore and teach the land’s deep and complicated history at the Carpenter Museum, has brought me renewed appreciation for how important the Sowams Area is, both individually and to the history of America.”  

Diane Williamson, Bristol’s Director of Community Development, on the Town Common, Bristol, RI.

“What I love most about Sowams is the blend of historic, cultural and natural landscapes that create such a unique sense of place and make Sowams such a special place.”

Laura McNamara, Director of Events and Community Engagement at the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, on the East Bay Bike Path.

“The East Bay Bike Path is one of my favorites in Sowams. Fourteen miles of the path share the communities of East Providence, Barrington, Warren and Bristol, Rhode Island, along its picturesque route.

While traveling via bicycle or walking, it is easy to envision a quieter time when only foot trails and woodlands existed in the area.”

James Moran, Chief Economic Planner for the City of East Providence, at the Pokanoket mural in East Providence, RI

“As a lover of history, I am fascinated with the area’s rich history and how the Sowams Area and its people have so greatly contributed to the culture and fabric of America. The Pokanoket have inhabited this area for 12,000 years and I am keenly interested in making the public more aware of the history that has unfolded right here in our corner of this big world. I don’t think many people fully realize this and I believe that a Federally designated Sowams Heritage Area will help to educate the public on the fascinating history of the Sowams Area.” 

Bill Napolitano of the Taunton River Watershed Alliance shares the wayfinding sign at Waterfront Park, Somerset, MA

“The Lower Taunton Estuary at Waterfront Park in Somerset is part of the gateway to the Wild & Scenic Taunton River from Mount Hope Bay.

The Taunton River Stewardship Council funded the wayfinding signs on the Taunton to remind folks of the deep history and heritage landscapes that we all share. (I love the shot of the man kayaking with his dog!)

Sowams is a special place in this world and is about all of its creatures and their stories.”

John Larsen at the Somerset Historical Society in Somerset, MA

“I’ve been involved at the Somerset Historical Society for many years, but I am always surprised and delighted by the scope of our collection, and discover something new almost weekly.
I have always considered Sowams my home and continue to be fascinated by the history and natural beauty of the area.”

Andrea Rounds, Sowams Project Advisor, on Mt. Hope Farm, Bristol, RI

My favorite spot in Sowams is the cedar grove overlooking Mt. Hope Bay on Mt. Hope Farm. In the summer I sit on the rocks to savor the cool shade and light breezes. In the winter, I sometimes can spot seals lolling on the rocks in Church Cove. People have been admiring this view for more than 12,000 years.”

Dr. Silas O. R. Pinto, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging, City of Providence, at the Roger Williams Memorial

“I believe that Place-Naming, Place-Making and Place-Keeping are born out of a necessity to unearth and uplift the buried stories of land we utilize. We need to create the space for a people to tell their story – past, present and future… and such initiatives are critical to our shared the commitment to truth and reconciliation. I’m happy to serve in this capacity.”

Monee Reis Program Coordinator/Confidential Assistant Department of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging City of Providence

“National Heritage Areas are areas that preserve and showcase the true cultural origins of land. The Sowams region is rich in Indigenous history, traditions, and culture that is worthwhile in conserving. My hope in participating in this project is to play a small role in helping residents and visitors uncover, highlight, and uplift the historic and native voices of this region by working towards a shared mission of protecting and promoting this region’s history, heritage, and culture through national land acknowledgement.”

Pokanoket Sagamore Winds of Thunder and Sachem Dancing Star at the Osamequin Nature Trail in Barrington, RI

“It is amazing hearing everyone use the word Sowams again. Just the sound of the word makes us so happy! It is what our people have always called this area.

We see this area as one, and all of it is special. As stewards of the land, open spaces where nature and wildlife thrive are especially important to us.

Potumtuk is a sacred place to us because it is where our ancestors met and where we still meet as a people today. The views are majestic and one can only imagine what our ancestors saw!”

PointHDC consulting team at King Philip’s Seat in Bristol, R.I. during their orientation visit in 2022.

Nancy I. M. Morgan, Ph.D., Principal, PointHDC, Lakewood, CO

“I was initially drawn to the Sowams Project because of the story and the challenge. Working with a little-known part of our nation’s origin story and trying to identify its remnants on the landscape fascinated me. As we got into the project, understanding how that origin story underpins four centuries of history and a living landscape has been even more interesting.”

Augie Carlino, President and CEO, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, Pittsburgh, PA

“Working on the Sowams feasibility study, I’m able to draw on my years of experience developing the Rivers of Steel NHA in Pittsburgh. I’ve seen first-hand how an NHA can leverage its national significance to boost cultural tourism, which leads to new jobs, small business growth and economic revitalization. Sowams has so much to offer! It can be a win-win for everyone.”

Peter Samuel, Retired Program Manager, NHA Program, National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA

“In my many years at the National Park Service working with NHAs in the Northeast Region as well as in other parts of the country, there has never been an NHA whose primary story and significance to the nation’s history has focused on early contact between tribal nations and the Europeans. This and the other themes associated with the Sowams area make this a unique region and critical to understanding how our country was established and evolved over time.”