WHITESBORO, N.Y. (AP) — An upstate New York village that drew widespread scrutiny last year for an official seal that appeared to depict a white settler throttling a Native American has come out with a new design that takes the hands away from the throat.
Whitesboro’s new seal still depicts village founder Hugh White going head-to-head in a wrestling stance with an Oneida Indian, but the white man’s hands are on his opponent’s shoulders, not near his throat.
Asked about the new design that sticks with the confrontational theme, village clerk and registrar Dana Nimey-Olney said Wednesday that “we didn’t have a problem with the wrestling match.”
According to an account on the village’s website, in the late 1700s White settled the village that would bear his name and established good relations with the local Oneida tribe. When one of the Indians challenged him to a friendly wrestling match, White threw and pinned his opponent.
“It was how they became friendly,” Nimey-Olney said. “They wanted each other’s respect through things like this wrestling match.”
Whitesboro found itself making national news, including on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” in early 2016 when an online petition sought to change the seal, which some considered racist and insensitive. That led to the non-binding vote, which ended with 157 residents voting to leave the seal alone, out of 212 votes cast.
But after the vote, officials in the village of 3,600 that’s located 80 miles (129 kilometers) northwest of Albany, said they would change the seal anyway.
It wasn’t the first time someone sought to change the seal. According to the Observer-Dispatch, a newspaper in nearby Utica, the village was sued over the seal by a Native American group in 1977. The village altered the seal slightly, but kept the wrestling image intact.
Village officials said last year that they would work with the Oneida Indian Nation to come up with a new design for the seal.
Oneida spokesman Joel Barkin said nation officials had no comment on the new seal.