This article focuses on how the street names of Buffalo, New York, have evolved over time in response to shifting sentiment toward the Native American population. Though the street names in Buffalo started off as primarily Germanic and Anglo-Saxon, as tensions rose between the white inhabitants of Buffalo and the Native population, more street names were named with tribal words. This was played out against the dramatic backdrop of Native American legal battles against the city of Buffalo and other land companies for the right to stay on their ancestral lands. In 1857, the Seneca Nation won a landmark case which allowed them to keep their reservation lands in perpetuity.
As the Native Americans of the area fought to have their claims recognized, the city noticeably increased the number of streets named after Native words. Though on the surface this appears to honor the original inhabitants of the Buffalo area, in actuality it helped to further marginalize the Native tribes and push them further into obsolescence. As the Natives receded from the public mind after their legal victory, these diverse and vibrant tribes were systematically marginalized, as knowledge of them became nothing more than a name on a sign and a lingering impression of “Native-ness.”
"What’s in a Name?: The Connection Between the Native Americans and the Streets of Buffalo, 1802-1857,"
The Exposition: Vol. 3
, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.buffalostate.edu/exposition/vol3/iss1/2