2011 -- S 1067

Enacted 07/15/11







     Introduced By: Senator V. Susan Sosnowski

     Date Introduced: June 22, 2011



     WHEREAS, The first founders to establish a community on Block Island were

Narragansett Native Americans, who inhabited the island for centuries and called it “Manisses”;


     WHEREAS, In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazzano, in service to the French crown, sighted

Block Island, and although he did not land, he named the island “Claudia,” after the mother of

King Francis I; and

     WHEREAS, In 1614, Dutch explorer Adriaen Block set foot on the island and so loved

its beauty and charm that he named it Adriaen’s Eyelandt. He placed it on navigational charts,

which later recognized it as Block Island; and

     WHEREAS, In 1660, Block Island was sold by the Massachusetts Bay Colony to a

company of sixteen men, most of whom constituted its first colonial settlers; and

     WHEREAS, In the 1990s, an archaeological excavation carbon dated objects found at the

site of a year-round village on the island, and established its time frame to be 500 B.C.; and

     WHEREAS, Artifacts found in this area suggested that the inhabitants went deep-sea

fishing by navigating their dugout canoes through a transient breach way between Great Salt

Pond and the ocean.  Remains of many sturgeon, a deepwater fish, were found during the

excavation along the shore of the pond; and

     WHEREAS, Several archaeological sites also indicated that the people lived primarily by

catching fish and shellfish, growing corn, and making trades with Wampum; and

     WHEREAS, In 1661, Native Americans on the island numbered between 1,200 and

1,500, but by 1774, that number had been reduced to fifty-one; and 

     WHEREAS, In 1672, Block Island received its town charter from the Rhode Island

General Assembly and was incorporated by the Colony of Rhode Island as “New Shoreham,

otherwise Block Island”; and

     WHEREAS, The tiny community took hold with stubborn independence and prospered

despite wars, taxation, piracy, and invasion. In 1774, it declared its independence from the crown

by repudiating British duties on tea; and

     WHEREAS, Through the ensuing centuries, Block Island remained a ruggedly

independent yet close-knit community while still fully partaking in global events; and

     WHEREAS, The people of Block Island remain unabashedly proud of their island and

their community. They strive to strike a balance among conservation of land, commercial and

residential development, and affordable living opportunities in today’s economy; and

     WHEREAS, This year, the current Block Island community celebrates the importance

and rich heritage of all who have come before to establish communities on and “discover” Block

Island; now, therefore be it

     RESOLVED, That this General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island and Providence

Plantations hereby recognizes that this smallest town in Rhode Island is large of heart, striking in

beauty, and great in importance; and be it further

     RESOLVED, That this General Assembly hereby extends hearty congratulations at the

celebration of the New Shoreham, otherwise known as Block Island, Memorial Honoring the

Manissean Native Ancestors and Descendants on June 26th of 2011. We furthermore

commemorate and encourage the preservation of the local indigenous cultures and their historical

sites; and be it further

     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to

transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to Shirlyne J. Gobern, Member of the Block

Island Semiseptcentennial Committee, Administrative Assistant to the Town of New Shoreham,

and descendant of the original native family.