The little island nestled in Fishing Bay on the southern end of Eastsound has been known by several different names over the years. The most shocking of its titles was “Jap Island.” In fact, the name was even recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management at one point! According to locals a Japanese man once lived on the island, hence the name. At other times it was known as “Victory Island” and “Little Island.” Today it is called Indian Island, as a nod to the first inhabitants of the area. These were the Coastal Salish Indians, who once gardened and collected and prepared shellfish on the island.
The island is only a little more than an acre, but at one time it was believed to be rich in mineral resources. In 1981 a deed was drawn up for an “official mining claim” on the island. However, it is suspected this was done in jest as there is no record of any mining operations taking place there, nor have there ever been any reports of valuable minerals.
Presently, Indian Island is known more for a very different natural resource: its wildlife. The Indian Island Marine Health Observatory is located on the island and focuses on observing and researching local wildlife. Thanks to the Observatory’s efforts, native plant species are now thriving on the island. The abundant vegetation has, in turn, been beneficial for local animals. Especially in recent years the island has become popular with bees, providing a safe and nourishing environment for their dwindling numbers.