WHITESBORO — A new official village seal is in effect, replacing a design that had sparked controversy for its depiction of Native Americans including being derided by Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”
The village “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,” according to a village statement.
“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,” the village added.
The original 40-year-old seal was intended to commemorate a friendly wrestling match, but appeared to show a white man choking an Indian. An online petition in the summer of 2015 called for the seal to be changed, stating it was disrespectful to Native Americans. Among the wide attention and coverage sparked by the issue was a January 2016 segment on “The Daily Show.” Village residents that month had voted to keep the traditional logo for its historic value, but village officials soon afterward said the design would be changed.
While maintaining a wrestling match theme, the new seal shows a white man and an Indian squaring off without one appearing to choke the other.
A student at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute was involved in the new design, Whitesboro Village Clerk Dana Nimey-Olney said today. The village last year was contacted by an MWPAI instructor who said students were working on a redesign of the seal as part of a class project, she noted.
Village officials did not choose any of the design options that were submitted from the class, Nimey-Olney explained, but they worked on a further design with a student whose style of artwork was preferred by them. The student was not identified.
The Village Board decided on the new design, Nimey-Olney added.