Whitesboro, NY seal depicts a white man strangling a Native American

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The seal of Whitesboro, New York, depicts a white man seemingly strangling a Native American, and many insist that it is time for that to change.

The seal has been changed slightly over the years so that the white man in the image has his hands on the Native American’s shoulders, not his throat, but the image, many claim, still seems to show the Native American in anguish under the attack, and people are calling for the seal to be changed entirely.

“The first thought that anyone has of this image is, ‘There’s some white guy killing an Indian, strangling an Indian,’?” Cliff Matias, director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council in Brooklyn, told the Voice. “It’s saying, ‘Well, they didn’t just conquer and defeat the people, but they also beat them in a wrestling match.’ It’s utterly ridiculous that a town would have pride in a symbol like that in this day and age.”

But officials, including the mayor, insist that the seal is not racist.

“I am aware that people are upset about it,” says Whitesboro mayor Patrick O’Connor. “Some have reached out directly to me through my village email. And if they looked at the seal and went with an opinion based solely on what they’re looking at, I could understand why people would have concern about it. But, [as with] everything else, I think you have to take all the facts into consideration. And if people take the time to do that and they reach out to us, or they do the research themselves, it’s actually a very accurate depiction of friendly wrestling matches that took place back in those days.”

Now, the seal is being put to a vote, with voters able to choose from between 8 and 10 options for replacement seals if the current one is scrapped. But residents in the town, which is largely white, seem unlikely to change the seal and in fact appear to be standing behind it.

We’ll just have to wait and see how the vote goes.