Members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe mark the 9th anniversary of the Smoke Shop raid, Saturday. Many of them were beaten and bruised RI State Police stormed their Charlestown shop, and they were in and out of court for years. But nearly a decade later, their spirit is still in tact.
Under Governor Carcieri's orders, police stormed the Narragansetts' Smoke Shop and closed it, after the tribe started selling tax-free cigarettes.
"This shop belongs open," said tribe member Domingo TallDog on Saturday, "We are the Narragansetts. Like it or not, we exist and until we bleed maybe that's what they need to see. Maybe they need to see we're willing to bleed and stand up for what we believe in."
Now, the tribe is coming together as a sign of solidarity and marking the date with a traditional Indian ritual.
The Narragansetts have held an event like this every year, but this time, the tribe has made it more public. Perhaps it has something to do with them challenging a state-wide ballot question about expanding gambling at Twin River. The Narragansett's casino proposal was rejected six years ago.
"Oh, I have a problem with it," said Talldog, "I have a major problem with it. Why is it ok for them? Has there been voter approval?"
"Not at all," said tribal councilman Randy Noka, "Nothing to do with that. We don't need propaganda in order to get out message out."
A federal appeals court judge ruled the tribe had been operating the smoke shop illegally. As for the tribe, members aren't giving up. They're planning to have an even larger remembrance next year for the tenth anniversary of the raid.