Hiawatha Jon Brown, an enrolled member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island. He is the tribe’s longest-serving Tribal Councilman serving for more than 35 years.
Born to the late Mr. John Brown and the late Dr. Ella Sekatuau, Medicine Woman, Linguistic Specialist of Algic and Late Algonquin Woodland Narragansett Language, Hiawatha was raised with a deep respect for Narragansett culture. Hiawatha has served as Chairman of the Narragansett Indian Pow Wow Committee for over 40 years and been a member of the tribe’s Traditional Council since 1980.
Hiawatha is a former board member of National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), United Southern and Eastern Tribes (USET), and the National Indian Housing Council (NIHC). He has decades of experience in testifying before Congress in federal courts as well as negotiating with federal agencies. Hiawatha continues to represent the Narragansett Tribe on local, regional, and national boards as well as advocates for human rights and Indian civil rights, among other causes.
Hiawatha currently serves as the Narragansett Tribe’s Health Consultant and the Master of Ceremony for the Narragansett Indian Pow-Wow (2000-present). Although, his previous roles with Narragansett Indian Tribe include Project Coordinator for the Narragansett Longhouse Project (2010-2012); Vice-chairman (2000-2004) and Chairman (2004-2008) of the Narragansett Wetomuck Housing Authority; as well as a cultural instructor of Narragansett arts, crafts and dancing. Throughout his time on the Narragansett Tribal Council, Hiawatha has respectively served as a liaison for housing, health, economic development, environmental protection and tribal administration.
Hiawatha is a fourth generation stone mason who learned from his father at an early age. A 1971 graduate of Chariho Regional Highschool, Hiawatha enlisted in the United States Navy on January 4, 1972. As a U.S. Navy Seabee he continued working in masonry and other building trades until he was honorably discharged as a veteran of the Viet Nam Era on September 9, 1975. Hiawatha served 22 years as a journeyman in the mason union until 1999 when he became an independent contractor, which he still works as today.
In his spare time, Hiawatha is an avid woodsman, a cultural specialist and a traditional artist of perennial culture. He enjoys music and dancing and is a champion traditional dancer as well as a longtime member of the intertribal Youngblood drum group. As a proud father of four beautiful daughters, three grandsons, seven granddaughters and one great-grandson and two great-granddaughters, Hiawatha is known best for his incredible love and devotion to his family.