Since Denali got its real name back, should Block Island be next?

WireCategories: Foreign
WorkFolder: BCOM
–Timothy J. Quill/Wikimedia Commons

The Washington Postsays it could be time to rename Block Island.

The suggestion was prompted by President Barack Obama’s announcement Sunday that the tallest peak in the United States, formerly known as Mount McKinley, was getting its old name back.

The 20,000-foot mountain will once again be officially called Denali, as it was known for generations to native Alaskans. It changed in 1896, when a New Hampshire prospector renamed the mountain after then-presidential candidate William McKinley, essentially to troll some silver miners with whom he disagreed on monetary policy. Alaskan lawmakers have since tried to reclaim the name from the Ohio-born president, who never visited Alaska, to restore the mountain’s heritage.


On Monday the Postlooked at five other “renamable American landmarks,’’ including the 9-square-mile summer destination off the coast of the Rhode Island.

It turns out that like a lot of things in the Americas, Block Island had a name prior to Europeans finding it.

The native Narragansett tribes called the island Manisses (meaning “Manitou’s Little Island’’) until a Dutch explorer named Adriaen Block visited the island and named it after himself. War soon broke out between native groups and colonists.

Given Block’s legacy, maybe the island, as the Post suggests, deserves its old name back.

Then again, at least Block actually visited to his namesake.

15 road trips to take in New England

Jump To Comments