Fire Island, A Historical Overview

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Fire Island, A Historical Overview “Rhythmic waves, high dunes, ancient maritime forests, historic landmarks and glimpses of wildlife—Fire Island has been a special place for diverse plants, animals and people for centuries” The origin of Fire Island's name is not quite clear; there are many stories as to where the Island got its name. It is thought that its Native American name was Sictem Hackey, which translated means “Land of the Secatogues”, an Indian tribe in Bay Shore, New York. It was also part of what was called the "Seal Islands."Some historians have also suggested that the name Fire derived from a misinterpretation of the Dutch word "vijf" ("five") or in another version "vier" ("four") referring to the number of islands near the Fire Island inlet. Some also say it is how the island appears to be on fire when looking back from ocean in the autumn. Yet other explanations of the naming of Fire Island come from without a doubt "Fire." The Native Americans may have used fires to signal the mainland; as did the whalers when they required supplies from mainland Long Island. It is also possible that whalers and fishermen erected fires along the shore to direct ships at night. One of the local lore’s tells about ship wreckers that lit fires on the beach to lure unlucky ships onto the shoals to be plundered. The most considerable fires were however, built by the whalers who required such large fires for days to "try out" i.e. boil down blubber into whale oil. There is another version that states that the natives named the island after the fiery rashes caused by rubbing up against the abundant Poison Ivy that grows all over the island. Long Island resident William Smith was given a vast area of land on Long Island as... ... middle of paper ... ...eople on the east side of the fence” or just plainly “oh you are one of them”, to Ocean Beach and its many shops and bar/restaurants which is widely known as the land of no which is ironic since it is the biggest party town on the island. The sad part of it is that a vast majority of the islands daily visitors or weekly/monthly renters have no idea of the islands history be it from the beginning or through the world wars. There are those of us that have been fortunate enough to have been raised either on the island, or within a boat ride from it. We are the ones who have been blessed with the knowledge of this wonderful place and lucky enough to have had it be a part of our lives. Works Cited www.fairharbor.com/history_fi_first_contact.htm, Fire Island: From Pirates to Slavery to Fun in the Sun - Newsday - Retrieved November 3, 2007, www.nps.gov/fiis/index.htm
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