These illustrations stem from language restoration projects that, like the Decolonial Atlas, support a radical and resurgent toponymy. In Haudenosaunee territory, as in other indigenous landscapes, place names are affected by settler-colonialist erasure, distortion, and violence. Illustration can help us to resist these forces – by acknowledging authentic language repair and revitalization within landscape, and by grounding us in the particulars of place and geography. We are so grateful to Sophie Brown for sharing these illustrations with us. Sophie lives in Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ or Cayuga territory on a small farm. She is an ally, illustrator, and master’s student at SUNY ESF, where she studies environmental science, linguistic geography, and Haudenosaunee place name restoration.
The names Skaniá:tares, Kaniatarí:io, and Tewaskóhon are in the Mohawk language and
are sourced from the Decolonial Atlas’ “Haudenosaunee Country in Mohawk”
(Delaronde, Engel, 2015). The names Tgahnáwęhta’ and Ganyadaiyo’ are in the Cayuga
language and are sourced from the English-Cayuga / Cayuga-English Dictionary (Froman
et al, 2002).
Skaniá:tares (Skaneatales Lake) in Mohawk.
Tewaskóhon (Owasco Lake) in Mohawk.
Tgahnáwęhta’ (Niagara Falls) in Cayuga.
Kaniatarí:io / Ganyadaiyo’ (Lake Ontario) in Mohawk and Cayuga, respectively.
[…] the river, or Iroquois; however, the more accurate term is Haudenosaunee. First peoples had their own names we no longer use for many places. “Mohawk,” e.g., is not what the first peoples […]
These are gorgeous! Thanks Sophie! Are they actually posted on signs by these sites? They should be! Even if it has to be as a guerrilla action at first!!
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That’s how they did it in Wales — they spray-painted Welsh place names on road signs until the government started adding them. These paintings would be best added as nicely enamelled signs though.