Lawmakers approve renaming Squaw Island; name deemed racist

AP News
Posted: Jun 23, 2015 4:38 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — New York lawmakers have voted to rename Squaw Island amid complaints from Native Americans the name is racist and sexist.

The Niagara River island will become Unity Island after a unanimous vote by Buffalo's Common Council on Tuesday. The vote followed a public hearing at which all but one of a handful of speakers supported the change.

Seneca Indian Nation member Tina Abrams says the current name is insulting to all Seneca women and calls the change overdue.

A historic marker at the island says the Senecas originally called it Divided Island, referring to a creek that runs through and divides the land. The island was named Squaw Island by French explorers in 1679.

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The island is a 60-acre city park and is accessible by a bridge.