Local Native American Names

NY Historical MapAlthough as school kids (at least in our district) we were taught about the influence the Iroquois League of Nations had on our founding fathers and we even had a classroom meal of traditional cornmeal mush, a dish Native Americans passed on to early settlers...

I am not so sure we knew how many of our local place names (cities, towns rivers and mountains) were derived from the First Nation Tribes. Not surprisingly, there are quite a few.

If you notice, there's generally a multi-syllable lilt to these Native-American-derived place names that hint to their Native American origin.

Places

Sacandaga

- Derived from the Iroquois "Sa-chen-da'-ga", meaning "overflowed lands" or "drowned land" CITE >

Schenectady

- Derived from the Iroquois Mohawk "Schau-naugh-ta-da", meaning "over the pine plains." CITE >

Niskayuna

- Derived from an Mohawk word "Canastagione", meaning“corn fields” or “corn flats.” CITE >

Saratoga

- Believed to be of Mohawk origin, derived from "Se-rach-ta-gue" meaning "the hillside country of the quiet river", although there are additional theories of origin as well. CITE >

Adirondack

- The name "Adirondacks" is an Anglicized version of the Mohawk ratirontaks, meaning "they eat trees", a derogatory name which the Mohawk historically applied to neighboring Algonquian-speaking tribes; when food was scarce, the Algonquians would eat the buds and bark of trees. Adirondack is also the Mohawk word for "porcupine" whose diet mainly consists of bark. CITE >

Cohoes

- Dutch adaptation of Mohawk "Ga-ha-oose" for "place of the falling canoe"  CITE >

Hoosac

- Hoosac is an Algonquian word meaning place of stones, i.e., a rocky or stony region. CITE >

Kayaderosseras

- A Mohawk Indian description meaning the "the land of the beautiful lake of the winding river" i.e., a crooked stream. CITE >

Shanantaha

- Native American name for Ballston Lake, meaning "clear waters." CITE >

Canajoharie

- The name is said to be a Mohawk language term meaning "the pot that washes itself," a reference to a circular gorge in the Canajoharie Creek, just south of the village CITE >

Ticonderoga

- The name comes from the Mohawk tekontaró:ken, meaning "it is at the junction of two waterways". CITE >

Poughkeepsie

- The name derives from a word in the Wappinger language, roughly U-puku-ipi-sing, meaning "the reed-covered lodge by the little-water place," referring to a spring or stream feeding into the Hudson River south of the present downtown area. CITE >

More...

- List of "place names of Native American origin" in New York State. Visit >

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