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1622, from southern New England Algonquian Naiaganset "(people) of the small point of land," containing nai- "a point or angle." Originally in reference to the native people, later to the place in Rhode Island.
town (township), southeastern Washington county, southern Rhode Island, U.S., at the entrance to Narragansett Bay. The Pettaquamscutt River (north) and Point Judith Pond (south) form the western boundary of the town, which includes the village of Narragansett Pier and the fishing villages of Galilee and Jerusalem. Near Galilee is Point Judith Lighthouse (1816), an important U.S. Coast Guard beacon. The area was settled about 1675 and was named for the Narraganset Indians, who were defeated and dispersed during King Philip's War (1675-76). Originally part of South Kingstown, it was set off as an enclave of it in 1888 and was incorporated as a separate town in 1901. The economy is based on tourism. Area 14 square miles (37 square km). Pop. (1990) 14,985; (2000) 16,361.