(Update, September, 27, 2017) – The village of Whitesboro has released a new version of its town seal, after controversy last year surrounding what some had previously said was a racist image.
The original seal, created in 1883, depicted what officials called a friendly wrestling match between a white settler and a Native American, not the settler choking the Native American, as opponents of the seal had claimed.
But, although villagers voted to keep the seal the same in 2016, officials decided last year to come up with a new design, after the seal received national attention from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”
The village has recently released the following statement regarding the matter:
“The village of Whitesboro worked with an art student to enhance the graphics of the village seal, while maintaining the depiction of the historical encounter between Whitesboro Founder Hugh White, and a member of the Oneidas (Oneida Nation). In addition to enhancing the graphics, the updated seal corrected inaccuracies like the design of the headdress worn by the Oneida, and making the attire of our founder more period specific.”
(Update, From January 22, 2016) – Whitesboro Mayor Patrick O’Connor has announced the village will change the image on its controversial town seal, after residents voted 157 to 55 Jan. 11, to keep the seal the same.
Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” had run a segment featuring the news, both before and after the vote, which, according to reports, may have contributed to the turnaround.
According to O’Connor, the town’s residents were “surprised at the negative attention” the seal had received due to the vote.
“They wanted to preserve history at the time of the vote, but also want to ensure that village is seen as the inclusive place that it is,” the mayor said in a statement.
According to O’Connor, the village is currently setting up a committee to consider changing the town’s seal.
In addition, Oneida Nation Chief Executive Officer Ray Halbritter said in a statement, “We applaud the village leaders’ willingness to evaluate their own symbols, and to make sure they accurately reflect their community’s core values.”
Residents in Whitesboro, a village just outside Utica, have voted to keep the village’s controversial town seal, instead of replacing it with a new one.
Town officials said residents voted 157 to 55 to keep the seal, after years of controversy surrounding what some have said is a racist image.
“It’s been a controversy for decades, so we decided to get the input of our local village residents,” Whitesboro Mayor Patrick O’Connor told Syracuse.com.
According to officials, the seal, created in 1883, depicts a friendly wrestling match between a white settler and a Native American, not the settler choking the Native American, as some opponents of the seal have claimed.
The wrestling match between the town’s founder, Hugh White, and a member of the local Oneida tribe “was an important event in the history of the settling of the Village of Whitesboro, and helped foster good relations between whites and the Indians,” the village website states.
Residents had been given a choice between several new images to choose from, and asked whether they wanted to keep or change the seal, during the informal vote.
Oneidas based in Central New York also started a petition to try to change the seal in July.
The seal is displayed on village trucks, highway equipment, letterheads and documents.