Weeklong occupation of tribal headquarters ends peacefully

CHARLESTOWN, R.I. (AP) — The weeklong occupation of a tribal government building by a faction of the Rhode Island Narragansett tribe has ended.

The occupiers left the building and handed over its keys to U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha at about 11:30 p.m. Monday.

The breakthrough came after days of mediation that included telephone calls and face-to-face meetings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The occupying group was led by tribal council members who impeached Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas and wanted him to step down. Councilwoman Chastity Machado, who spent six nights inside the building, says it’s now time to settle issues as a family.

Thomas and his supporters don’t recognize the results of an election or the impeachment.

Charlestown’s police chief, the U.S. Interior Department and a nonviolence institute joined in the mediation talks.