The Narragansett Indians called it Quacumpaug Pond, the settlers called it Schoolhouse Pond because they built a schoolhouse to assimilate the Indians there. I can’t find the meaning of Quacumpaug on the Internet. My second cousins were members of a lodge on this pond; they called their lodge Quacumpaug, the Narragansett name, but the members were all white. In the 1980’s, the Narragansetts reclaimed the land and the lodge too; a few years later the lodge burned down.
I visited Quacumpaug with my cousins once when I was very young. I compared it to Pausacaco, the lodge we went to every year on another lake, and found it reassuringly familiar, yet with exciting differences. At the end of the long pier extending into the pond, the water was still shallow, with a sandy bottom, so you had to be careful jumping in. The sandy bottom was a plus; no murky bottom with bloodsuckers like at Pausacaco. But I gave Pausacaco a check mark for deeper water that allowed us to dive in.
I believe strongly in the right of Native American tribal groups to reclaim lost lands. The lodge our family goes to, Pausacaco, sits on Pausacaco Pond, or Carr Pond as it appears on maps. There are only two other houses on the pond, and only one is visible from the porch. If you go out to the middle of the lake, you can see the third house, now a private dwelling, that has the same architectural structure as Pausacaco. It used to be called Medicine Lodge, because it was founded by a group of doctors from Providence.
It seems plausible that the Narragansetts could reclaim Pausacaco too, as they did Quacumpaug. My cousins, who are now members of Pausacaco, still mourn the loss of the lodge of their childhood. Pausacaco’s membership is still all white. I notice a confluence of blue eyes at our annual meeting every spring. My siblings and I fear losing Pausacaco to fire—it burnt down and was rebuilt in 1922. We must consider the possibility of loss to the land’s previous inhabitants. Our little haven, hemmed in by Route 1 and Route 1A to the east and west, and Route 138 to the north, sits in its quiet spot amid a hubbub of tourism and second homes near Narragansett Bay. We hope that its relatively small acreage makes it less desirable for reclamation. We hope to hang onto our white privilege.