OSWEGO, NY – An eastside Oswego street now has a new, old, name.
About two dozen people, including city officials and representatives of the Onondaga Nation gathered today (Oct. 25) for the official dedication ceremony of Onondaga Street.
Formerly Canal View Drive, this city street is located along the Oswego canal, just a block west of East First Street (Route 481) and it begins at the foot of East Cayuga Street and continues southerly behind the EconoLodge Hotel and the Oswego Education Center to East Oneida Street.
Mayor Randy Bateman recognized city resident Mike Goldych as the one who approached the city with the idea for the name change.
“He had done some research and discovered that originally East Bridge Street had been named Onondaga Street,” he said, adding that according to some old French maps, the Oswego River was called the Onondaga River.
“It’s fitting that we have Cayuga, Seneca, Mohawk and Oneida streets and now we have an Onondaga Street in the city of Oswego as well,” the mayor noted.
“It is pointing directly south, toward the Onondaga Nation,” observed Mary Vanouse, community development director.
“Pointing in the correct direction,” the mayor agreed.
“Follow the river. Yes, follow the river,” said Chief Jake Edwards of the Onondaga Nation.
Goldych related how he had noticed that there no longer was an Onondaga Street in Oswego.
“It saddened me,” he said.
One day he noticed there was no sign on Canal View Drive “and it connected Oneida Street and Cayuga Street,” he said. “And, I thought, ‘Wow, what an opportunity!’”
So he brought the idea to rename the street to the attention of the Common Council who were very receptive, he added.
“Greetings to you all. We are honored to be here for this name change,” Chief Edwards said.
He spoke about the great history of this area and how everyone should be educated about it.
“I think it is a good staring point to re-establish that education for the people that are living here now, the true history. We ain’t going anywhere, we’re still here. We have to balance things, the ecosystem, the rights of the animals, the rights of nature with the right education and the right history. It’s incomplete when you listen to just one side of it … we’re all involved in history. So we’ve got to start back at the beginning, re-educate the people and put in the proper teachings that were left out, intentionally some times,” the chief said.
“This is a great honor to be here with you guys for this dedication. I look forward to working more with you; re-educating our own people, too, on the whole history of this area. This is a wonderful area; we have to take care of it. It is up to us now,” he continued.
“I hope this is the beginning of a good and long relationship,” added Jeannie Shenandoah, who handles the communications for the Onondaga Nation. “A large portion of the work that we do is cleaning and protecting the environment. We all live here together. I want to say thank you for inviting us to take part today.”
“In the days of old (circa 1800), Bridge Street was named Onondaga Street. Streets in the city of Oswego were named for the five major nations in the Iroquois Confederation,” said Tony Leotta, city engineer. “Facing south and rotated 90 degrees, the streets were accurately named in sequence as Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga (now Bridge), Cayuga, and Seneca. It’s proper that Onondaga is now represented in Oswego County.”
Following the unveiling, Shane Broadwell owner of the Quality Inn, invited everyone into the Riverview Banquet Room at GS Steamers for a small reception.