University of Rhode Island. Photo Credit: University of Rhode Island

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — The University of Rhode Island has established a scholarship program that this year is helping 15 citizens of the Narragansett Indian Tribe pay for their educations, the university announced Monday.

The Narragansett Undergraduate Scholarship stems from a 2017 proposal that the university’s American Indian/Native American Advisory Council submitted to then-President David Dooley seeking tuition waivers for undergraduate students.

The council said that URI is a land grant institution on the traditional homelands of the Narragansett Nation, and waiving tuition for tribal members would be an important step in creating opportunities for Indigenous students.

“Acknowledging and respecting the original inhabitants of the land the university occupies is an important part of our mission and our values and I am pleased that we are able to honor and support members of the Narragansett Nation in this way,” current URI President Marc Parlange said in a statement.

The university awarded $175,000 for in-state tuition and fees to this year’s recipients. An additional 15 to 20 students are expected to benefit during the next academic year.

“The Narragansett Tribal scholarship gave me a sense of acknowledgment and recognition of not only me but all Narragansett students, our history, and our future presence on campus,” senior animal science major Laurel Spears said.