This large lagoon was named by early explorers after the Pamouik, a Native American tribe that lived throughout the shores.
The term "sound" refers to a saltwater lagoon.
Originally known as the town of Smith's Creek, Oriental was named after a Union ship that ran aground near Bodie Island in 1862, during the Civil War.
When a post office was established there in 1886, the postmaster's wife felt that a new name was in order. Out beachcombing along the Outer Banks she found the name plate from the wrecked ship and thought it would make a great name for the town.