(CN) – The residents of a tiny community in Upstate New York voted Monday night to keep their controversial town logo showing a white settler strangling a Native American.
Residents of Whitesboro, located outside of Utica, N.Y., were asked to vote on up to eight different options or keep the image showing the town’s founder Hugh White in what supporters of the logo call a “friendly” wrestling match with a member of the Oneida tribe.
Others say the image is a depiction of a more pointed 1883 face-off between the settler and the Native Indian.
According to published reports, of the 212 votes that were cast, 157 were in favor of keeping the old logo.
The town’s mayor, Patrick O’Connor, had called for the village of 3,000 to consider other emblems after repeated calls for its removal on the grounds that the image was racist.
The vote was announced Jan. 4, and post cards were sent to town residents, asking them to vote and finally put the issue to rest.
The controversial image shows the two men grappling on a grassy knoll, with the white settler getting the better of a shirt-less red-skinned man, who appears to be off-balance and falling backward.
The depiction is ringed with the words: “Village of Whitesboro, New York.”
Alternative images presented to voters included one showing the same to men in a more friendly pose, another featuring an image of NHL goalie and native son Robert Esche, and another depicting the Erie Canal, which is an integral part of the village’s history.
According to the U.S. Census, the town is 99 percent white, but at least five Native Americans are also residents.
At least one Native American woman took to the Internet to decry the image, saying, “it’s time for a makeover – your makeover.”
“[Y]our outdated and inappropriate town seal, which is not only unbecoming of a progressive and humanitarian America, but according to a growing body of academic studies, portrayals such as this cause psychological harm to Native American Youth,” wrote Sarah Sunshine Manning, an activist and educator who identifies herself as living on “Turtle Island,” a description many Native Americans apply to North America.
“And many of us can agree, the look really doesn’t flatter your figure,” she said.
Another Twitter reader chimed in: “If u told me there’s a town called Whitesboro & their seal is a white guy choking a Native American I’d say that was a pretty tasteless joke.”
The town is named after its founder, not because of its mostly white population. A phone call and email to the town’s clerk were not returned Tuesday morning.
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