Aug 6, 2018

Shenendehowa Languages and Beefcake

When I saw this photo captioned "Shenendehowa wrestler ranked nationally," of course I had to find out what sort of town was named Shenendehowa.  Related to Shenandoah, perhaps?

It's not a town, it's a high school in Clifton Park, New York, a suburb of Albany, from the Mohawk word for "great plains."

It's often called Shen for short.

Here are the Shen senior swimmers.

Not to be confused with Shen, the common Chinese surname.  This is Parry Shen and Derek Thaler in a scene from the soap opera General Hospital.

Shenendehowa has no connection to the horrible Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, known for its horrific Civil War battles and homophobic small towns.

Other schools in the Shenendehowah district also have Mohawk names: Gowana (great), Koda (friend), Orenda (great spirit), Acadia (place of plenty).

This is a swimmer from Acadia.

No connection to Acadia, the colony of New France that lent its name to Acadia National Park, the Acadia River, and Acadia University.  That's from the French "Acadie," a 16th century misprint of "Arcadie," the region of ancient Greece that inspired so many pastoral romances.

This is Guy Harrison-Murray, a paraplegic swimmer from that other Acadia.

Why so many Mohawk names?

The Mohawk were a tribe in the Iroquois Confederacy, based in upstate New York and southern Ontario.  Today there around 30,000 members of the Mohawk nations in the U.S. and Canada.  The Mohawk language has about 4,000 native speakers.

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