New York village votes to keep Native American seal

A small village in New York state has raised eyebrows after its residents voted against changing its official seal, which depicts a white European settler strangling a Native American.


The Smithsonian Magazine reported that only 200 Whitesboro residents casted their vote and the result favoured maintaining the seal.  

Mayor Patrick O’Connor confirmed that the result was definitive and said the symbol was “a very accurate depiction of friendly wrestling matches that took place back in those days”.

His thoughts were echoed by resident Herb Lamach who said it was part of the village’s history.

“We know the Indian and the white man wrestle together,” he said.

“We know they both appreciated it and enjoyed it. It was a good thing. So all of this other talk is just that, talk.”

This isn’t the first time that residents have been conflicted over Whitesboro’s seal.

In the 1970s, a Native American group sued the town, which led officials to alter the original logo, which features the founder of Whitesboro, settler Hugh White with his hands around a Native American man’s throat.

Opponents of the seal said people tend to see it as showing violence against Native Americans.

Director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council in Brooklyn, Cliff Matias, described his disappointment at the result.

“The first thought that anyone has of this image is, ‘there’s some white guy killing an Indian, strangling an Indian’,” he said.

“It’s saying, well, they didn’t just conquer and defeat the people, but they also beat them in a wrestling match. It’s utterly ridiculous that a town would have pride in a symbol like that in this day and age.”

The seal appears on official documents, police cars, village trucks and signs.

Voters were presented with several alternative designs at the vote, including one that showed settlers and Native Americans standing side by side.

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