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Letter: Longtime Buffalo resident upset over Squaw Island’s new name

Longtime Buffalo resident upset over Squaw Island’s new name

I grew up in the Black Rock/Riverside area of Buffalo. I still remember having first learned about Squaw Island as a little child. I knew that squaw was an Indian name for a women but I made no association to anything derogatory. Instead I imagined an island where Indians lived, grew crops and protected themselves from rival Indian tribes.

All of us kids in the neighborhood would ask ourselves if there where any Indian ghosts still lurking around at night and whether if there were any sacred Indian burial grounds on the island. We all had a profound respect for anyone that had to live on an island, especially that island, since it stunk so much from being a landfill.

The name Squaw Island alone spurred our imagination to such a degree that when I finally visited the Buffalo Historical Museum as a child, along with all my classmates from school, I gazed that the Indian display highlighting how Indians lived way back in history and I thought about Squaw Island.

The name Squaw Island had a more positive impact on me than any negative connotation that many idiots are now trying to associate with it today. Now that the island is called Unity Island, it is only a piece of dirt to me now.

What a shame that the mystery of that island has been turned into a PBS-type kids show prop. All the politicians who voted for the name change should have been forced to vote with hand puppets.

Matthew R. Powenski

Buffalo