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Squaw Island Name Change? Thursday at Burning Books

According to Jodi-Lynn Maracle, a Mohawk from Tyendinaga who was born and raised in Buffalo, the name of the island that separates the Black Rock channel from the Niagara River should be changed from Squaw Island to something more traditional and in keeping with the territory’s history. She sent a strongly worded letter to the Buffalo Common Council arguing just that.

Maracle will be speaking on the topic this Thursday at 7pm at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut Street.

More from Two Row Times. Other events are planned to draw public attention to this issue.


  • BlackRockLifer

    As a 7th generation resident of Black Rock I support the effort to change the name of Squaw Island. I live just a few blocks away and spent many days as a kid exploring the island . My wife and I walk there on a regular basis and we often discussed the offensive nature of the name.
    I would suggest Conjockety’s Island to honor the last member of the Nuetral Nation. Conjockety lived along Scajaquada Creek and was reported to grow corn on the island. I do think the wishes of the residents of Black Rock should be given priority, Squaw Island has always been a recreational resource for generations of neighborhood residents.

    • Buffalonian

      Why shouldn’t priority be given to the wishes of the Haudenosaunee, the use of whose traditional territory is what made the City of Buffalo possible in the first place? The residents of what is now the Black Rock neighborhood have lineage that spans MAYBE hundreds of years — the Haudenosaunee have thousands.

  • MikeCody

    I too agree that the name is offensive, and should be changed. However, on the list of priority items concerning the Niagara River, this ranks darn close to the bottom. If the energy and effort expended on this project were devoted to, for example, cleanup along the shoreline a great deal more could be accomplished.

    • Buffalonian

      The people involved in this initiative do far more than just this one thing. Rather, this is an extension of the on-going work that they do in the area.

      Also, maybe the use of a racist/sexist name to refer to this piece of land, and the disrespect it signals towards the original inhabitants of this area, is related to the continued disrespect of the environment as well? Rather than seeing these things as disconnected, maybe you could see them as related?

      • MikeCody

        I had not considered it from that aspect – if by bringing the name to the attention of the people, perhaps that will mobilize them for the more long term aspects as well.

  • jld5199

    Attempting to be “politically correct” is a good reason to change the name of a historic ICON in BlackRock? I remember the docks and pilings near the old shantys where we would jump off and swim, watch the giant rats scurry thru the fields…changing the name will not enhance the memories of many of us who grew up with this island in our area. When it was wasnt titled to be offensive…but just a significant name for the times. Shall we change the name of the Peace Bridge?/ because there is very little peace in the world nowadays?
    Get over it…put your energies in other more signifacant / important issues in the city!

    • Buffalonian

      Your whole response is about how this will/does affect YOUR memories and YOUR experience. I love how you say “many of us who grew up with this island in our area” — the people who are trying to change this name are Haudenosaunee people, whose current communities and ancestors were here long before you “grew up” in this area. What does it matter to you if it’s changed? If Native people feel that this will vastly improve their experience of the living in the city of Buffalo (on their own traditional territories), then what’s the harm?

      It sounds to me like you’re the one who should “get over it” — it would TAKE so much energy or effort if people weren’t so dedicated to maintaining the use of this racist and sexist term.