Whitesboro Seal May Soon Change, Is The Image Historic Or Racist?

Whitesboro seal is getting a makeover. The New York village received a massive amount of backlash after the seal was showcased on The Daily Show. Residents recently voted to keep the seal depicting a white settler appearing to choke a Native American Indian, but charges of racism have now changed the minds of village leaders.

The Whitesboro seal was shown during the last few moments of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Friday night. It did not take long for the image many deem offensive to go viral on the internet. Officials from the New York village are in the midst of putting together a meeting of descendants of the town’s founder, Hugh White, and leaders of the Oneida Indian Nation tribe, dTechno reports.

If the meeting proves successful, the Hugh White descendants and the Oneida leaders will walk out of the meeting shaking hands over a new Whitesboro seal.

Although the Whitesboro seal certainly may look offensive to those unfamiliar with the history of the New York village, the town mayor maintains nothing could be further from the truth. Mayor Patrick O’Connor did state that he utilized the services of the art department at Comedy Central to come up with some new options for the town seal.

During The Daily Show skit, which also included interviews with a local Native American activist, the town clerk, and area residents, Mayor O’Conner had this to say about the Whitesboro seal.

“The seal is absolutely not offensive. The seal depicts our founder – Hugh White. Hugh White is invited to engage to a friendly wrestling match. The goal of the match was to push the opponent off balance. The seal is based on historical events that fostered a good relationship between our founder and the American Indians.”

Hugh White settled at White’s Town in Montgomery County, according to the village website. He and his five sons used his interest in a successful patent on June 5, 1784 had and bought land at a public and established a community of about 200 residents in 1788.

Here’s an excerpt from the Whitesboro town website about the formation of the controversial seal.

“Most of the Oneida tribe of Indians had maintained their professions of friendship for the white man in an honorable manner. Judge White was required to exercise much diplomacy in dealing with his red neighbors. He soon acquired their good will and was fortunate to inspire them with very exalted ideas of his character. An Oneida Indian of rather athletic form was one day present at the White’s house with several of his companions and at length for fun commenced wrestling. He accepted the challenge, took hold of the Indian and by a fortunate trip, succeeded almost instantly in throwing him. When the Indian finally rose, he shrugged his shoulders and was said to have muttered “UGH”, you good fellow too much.”

The historical recounting goes on to state that Hugh White became a “hero in the eyes” of the Oneida Indians. White reportedly went on to always deal fairly with members of the tribe, actions which gained their trust and fostered continued good will between the two communities.

The mayor also said that when he spoke with village residents who had voted to keep the Whitesboro seal he felt they were surprised at the amount of negative attention the image had sparked nationwide. Mayor O’Conner also noted that those who voted in favor of maintaining the current image depicted on the seal that wanted to preserve the history of the town. Now, many of those folks also want to ensure that their hometown is showcased as the “inclusive place that it is,” the mayor also added.

Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter posted a report on the group’s website stating that he applauded the decision to start crafting a new Whitesboro seal. Halbritter also added that another mutually agreed upon image will better reflect the core values of the New York village.

{We are happy to work with anyone who wants to make sure the symbols they are promoting are honoring and respecting all people,” the Oneida Indian Nation representative said. “This is but one of many important examples of communities taking welcome steps to be inclusive and promote our region’s commitment to civility.”

The current Whitesboro seal image reportedly shows the hands of Hugh White not around the neck of the Indian brave, but at the top of his shoulders – although it is difficult to make that distinction from the angle and size of image. In 1977 town officials altered the placement of the hands in the image to move them further away from the neck of the Native American.

What do you think about the Whitesboro seal?

[Image via Shutterstock]