People of the Small Point

NarragansettRI.gov

NarragansettRI.gov

Native American names abound throughout the United States, especially here in tiny Rhode Island. A small town whose population nearly doubles during the summer, the name ‘Narragansett‘ is actually an English corruption of the Algonquin tribal name Nanhigganeuck, which means ‘people of the small point.’

East Matunuck photo by M. Reynolds

East Matunuck
photo by M. Reynolds

Matunuck (‘Mah-TOO-nick’) is a village set between Narragansett and Charlestown, whose name means ‘lookout.’ The Narragansett tribe used Matunuck as a summer encampment. The beaches at Matunuck and East Matunuck are both great, with direct exposure to the Atlantic Ocean.

charlestownri.org

charlestownri.org

Quonochontaug (go ahead, try it – okay, it’s ‘QUON-ah-kah-tawg’) might be hard to pronounce, but according to the American Indian Place Names page, Quonochontaug means ‘extended deserted place/two long ponds in succession.’ The photo above shows the breachway, which provides access to both Quonochontaug Pond and Block Island Sound. The pond is a large salt pond with many coves and channels to explore in a kayak or other small boat.

Misquamicut via commons.wikimedia.org

Misquamicut via commons.wikimedia.org

Almost in Connecticut, Misquamicut extends from Weekapaug to Watch Hill (all part of the town of Westerly). The area once known as ‘Pleasant View’ changed its name in 1928 to Misquamicut, an Indian name that means ‘red fish,’ a reference to the Atlantic salmon common to the Pawcatuck River. 

And if you didn’t know before reading this, now you know why Rhode Island is The Ocean State!

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6 Comments

Beautiful photos and interesting post. Thank you, Martha. I’ve often read and heard of Rhode Island. It looks a delightful place to visit. Maybe one day …

Rhode Island is one of the few states I have not visited, but would love to do so.

twhobin1@juno.com July 23, 2016 at 7:43 am

Lovely reflection and information…thx. I also liked that Roger Williams learned their language…glad said  no  to al alba   just want to see our group… Bob Shapiro came to everyone  until he passed on Sept 6th 2012. Thx also for coming to my Dads funeral 24 yrs ago.. Be well T Flowers and East Matunuk Beach  past the jetty

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