Yes, this is the official seal of Whitesboro, New York. And it will likely continue to be. According to Whitesboro’s mayor, the residents just voted 157-55 to keep using this symbol to represent themselves to the world.
When the US finally decided to start taking down its more overt symbols of racism last year, Whitesboro’s seal made national headlines, spurred by a very popular petition to remove it. But six months later, there has been no call from higher-ups to change the seal, which greets visitors on their way into town.
Before you get the wrong idea, the seal of Whitesboro (which is located in the town of Whitestown) has a very innocent story behind it with no imperialistic overtones, not at all, according to this Associated Press report:
Whitesboro’s website says the emblem dates to the early 1900s and depicts a friendly wrestling match between village founder Hugh White and an Oneida Indian. It says White won the match and the lasting respect and goodwill of the Oneidas.
Of course White won lasting respect! And the Oneida Indian probably won smallpox.
This whole issue apparently has come up before. In the 1970s, after some residents found the seal offensive, the illustration was modified. A new version was drawn “with White’s hands on the Indian’s shoulders instead of on his neck,” village historian Dana Nimey-Olney told the AP.
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The mayor says the vote was not official and further action will be discussed at a meeting tonight.