Opinion

Doug George-Kanentiio: Mohawk names grace state of New York





As we travel about our ancestral lands in what is now New York State it is good to see how many places have Kanienke (Mohawk) names. The names are a source of pride to those who call these places home even if few New Yorkers know their true meaning.

The following is a partial list of place names which are distinctly Mohawk or as described by the Mohawk people. Think about this the next time you are passing through our homelands.

Schenectady: Ska-na-ta-ti: other side of the pines
Cohoes Falls: Kahon:ios: canoe falls
Schoharie: Sko-ha-li: driftwood
Niskayuna: Koh-nis-ti-gi-oh-ne: corn fields
Mohawk River: Oh-ion-hiio-ke: nice creek
Lake George: Ka-nia-da-lok-te: waters meet
Schroon Lake: Ska:nia:ta:ro:wa:nen: big lake
Lake Champlain: Ka-nia-da-la-kwa-lohn-de: bulging waterway
Ticonderoga: Te-ken-ta-lo-ken: two waterways
Kayaderosseras: Ka-nia-da-lo-se-las: waves splashing
Hudson River: Oh-iio-ge: nice river
Canajoharie: Ka-na-jio-ha-le-: washed kettle
Otsego: Oht-sten-ha: rock or Oht-ste-ha-net: rock village
Oneonta: Oh-neh-ohn-da: stoney place
Canadaragon: Oh-nia-da-la-kehn: on the lake
Susquehanna: Kah-wah-no-nen-ne: great island river
New York City: Kanon:no: thick with pipes
Massena: Ni-ken-tsia: ke: where the small fish are
Fort Covington: Ken:tsia:ko:wah:ne: place of the sturgeon (big fish)
Lake Ontario: Ka:nia:ta:ro:io: nice lake
Niagara Falls: Oh:nia:ga:ra: big rapids
Skaneateles: Ska:ni:en:ta:res: long lake
Onchiota: Io:nio:te: there is a rainbow
Washington, DC: Ra-na:ta:ka:ri: ahsne: place of the town destroyer
USA: Wah-stohn-lon: on-gwe: Americans (Bostonians), the rebels

Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk, is the vice-president of the Hiawatha Institute for Indigenous Knowledge. A former member of the Board of Trustees for the National Museum of the American Indian he resides in Oneida territory with his wife Joanne Shenandoah.

More from Doug George-Kanentiio:
Doug George-Kanentiio: What does it mean to be Mohawk today? (3/27)