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Canandaigua unveils new sign for Skenoh Island

In a move to correct past cultural insensitivities, a new sign has been erected at Canandaigua City Pier for Skenoh Island, formerly known as Squaw Island.

The change comes two years after the official renaming of the island in 2021, a decision prompted by the derogatory connotations of the original name.

The initiative, led by Edward Randolph, aimed to address historical inaccuracies and honor the local Seneca people.


The new sign, funded by the Canandaigua Centennial Endowment, not only marks the renaming but also provides a brief history of the island, its significance to the Haudenosaunee or Seneca Confederacy, and its status as the smallest wildlife management area in the state.

The change aligns with broader efforts to respect indigenous cultures, mirroring actions taken by New York school districts to abandon Native American nicknames and logos. The new name, Skenoh, meaning well-being or health, was suggested by G. Peter Jemison, former manager at the Ganondagan State Historic Site.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved the renaming, following endorsements from several state bodies.