The name of a small island in Canandaigua Lake in western New York has been changed because the former name contained a derogatory word.
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved changing the name of Squaw Island to Skenoh Island last week, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. The island, which is less than a quarter of an acre, is the smallest state park in New York, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.
The new name, Skenoh, was suggested by G. Peter Jemison, historic site manager at the Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor.
The word, pronounced ``scan-oh,`` is from a Seneca dialect and can be translated to mean ``peace,’’ the newspaper reported.
``It’s a small change, but I think an important one,’’ Jemison said. ``I hope people will accept the reasons for it.’’
Edward Randolph initially proposed changing the island’s name to Canandaigua over a year ago. The proposal was eventually brought to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which also consulted with the county, as well as other state agencies and organizations.
``From the start this was all about correcting the wrongs of the past,’’ Randolph said. ``While the process to change the name was difficult, it pales in comparison to the difficulties that the Native American community has faced and will continue to face. While changing the name will not bring home the missing and murdered, the decision will hopefully bring a small bit of peace to their community.``
The name change takes effect immediately, and federal maps will be updated with the change in the normal revision cycle.
- The Associated Press