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Smoke Shop Confrontation
Raid taking toll on Narragansetts
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ The Narragansett Indian tribe has been hurt by a state raid on its tax-free tobacco store but now must move forward and seek justice through the legal system, Chief
Sachem Matthew Thomas says.
   ``We're trying to heal the horrendous actions that happened on Monday afternoon,'' Thomas said at a unity gathering attended by about 1,000 people, including tribal leaders from around the
   Thomas, who met with Gov. Don Carcieri on Thursday at the governor's request, said the tribe will take its fight to the courts. ``We're going to do it in a civilized and educated fashion.
If we lose, we lose, but the battle will be done correctly,'' he said.
   Thomas and Medicine Man Lloyd Running Wolf Wilcox opened the unity gathering with a peace pipe ceremony. The two presented the pipe to 16 visiting chiefs and governors from other Indian nations.
   Carcieri said he put the state police in a difficult position by ordering a raid on the shop and he should have known the move would probably lead to a confrontation.
   ``What we wanted to do, to effect a search warrant without a confrontation, was probably an expectation, in light of everything, that could not be achieved,'' Carcieri said. ``My decision put them in a situation that reflected badly on them and that wasn't
   It was a message he delivered personally to state police Col. Steven Pare and his staff.
   The governor said he did not apologize to Pare, but did tell the colonel and his staff that he fully supports them.
   Carcieri also reiterated his contention the tribe bore some blame by resisting the police during Monday's raid, which led to several arrests and some minor injuries.
   ``The tribe could have just stood down and didn't and it was an unfortunate situation,'' the governor said.
   Pare did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
   Carcieri said Thursday's meeting with Thomas was intended to calm emotions among members of the tribe and let them know he still wants to work with them.
   ``We're trying to start a process of healing,'' he said. ``Sometimes with the best of intentions things get out of control. I'm interested in trying to heal people all around, the tribe, the
state police, heal the state and lower the emotions.''
   The Republican governor said no additional meetings with Thomas have been scheduled.
   ``The sentiment was the same on both sides,'' Thomas said.
   Carcieri didn't explicitly apologize to the tribe, but said he was sorry for what had taken place, Thomas said.
   Thomas stopped short of forgiving the state, but said he was looking to the future.
   ``It's a deep wound and we need to start the healing process or we'll never heal,'' he said.
   Carcieri has been sharply criticized by Democrats for his handling of the raid and comments that he had ordered state police to withdraw if they met resistance.
   ``I have never deflected blame to anyone,'' Carcieri said. ``I take full responsibility.''
   Thomas said the tribe has been buoyed by the support it has received.
   Wussouhoosu, a Pocasset Wampanoag Indian who lives in East Providence, said she came to the gathering because she wanted to support her people after the raid.
   ``We're proud to be the Indians of the North American Turtle Island,'' she said.
   Videotape of the raid shows tribal members who resisted being wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by police. It also showed several tribe members wrestling with troopers. Seven were arrested.
   Thomas has said the tribe was protecting its land, while the state has argued the Narragansetts were breaking the law by selling tobacco tax-free.
   Wilcox said members of the tribe are still angered by the raid.
   ``Finally, the racism and the bigotry in this state has been fully exposed,'' he said.
   The rift between the tribe and state officials is nothing new. Narragansett leaders have been trying to open a casino for 14 years. But a 1996 amendment to federal law introduced by the late
Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., exempts the tribe from the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which has allowed tribes, including Connecticut's Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, to open casinos.
   Carcieri has said he offered the tribe the possibility of a compact on the tobacco sale question, but the Narragansetts refused unless he dropped his opposition to a casino.
   Thomas has said he asked only that the governor allow the issue to go to a voter referendum.
   The tribe claims its federal status exempts it from state law, while state officials say a 1978 compact binds the Narragansetts to follow Rhode Island's civil statutes.
   Attorneys for the state and the tribe met Wednesday in federal court and are scheduled to meet again with U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith on Monday. Thomas said the tribe will honor
the federal court process and will not reopen the shop before the next court date.

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