Solving Racism – Whitesboro – UPDATE

whitesboro old and new 2017

The Village of Whitesboro has begun utilizing an updated design with some help from the {meetinghouse} creative collaborative. Kudos to Pratt student Marina Richmond for working directly with the village to finalize the seal!  We are looking forward to seeing the emblem applied throughout the village! Whitesboro logo process 2

The Backstory

It is true, on January 11, 2016 the village of Whitesboro residents voted 157-55 to keep the seal that seems to depict a white man choking or strangling a Native American.

whitesboro-seal
The seal used on stationary in 2016

Village officials claim the seal depicts a friendly wrestling match between Hugh White, the town’s founder, and a member of the local Oneida tribe. Some have called the logo “racist” and “offensive,” prompting residents to consider several new images as a possible replacement, including pictures submitted by a local resident and several from “The Daily Show“.

Just about every news outlet and late night comedy show covered the news about the village that voted to keep its controversially racist seal—except the Daily Show who waited a week to air their story admitting that they “kinda, sorta, partially, caused it.”

Daily Show reporter Jessica Williams learned that in 1999 the village of Whitesboro had wanted to change the seal but no alternative submissions were received. Williams supplied several alternative designs which lead to the most recent vote on January eleventh—thus putting the story back in the media spotlight.

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Before the show aired PrattMWP students were already working on a visual response to the story. Some of the students designed more historically accurate and less offensive seals, others created editorial illustrations and political style cartoons. Thank you to the mayor of Whitesboro for being a good sport,  to the media for prompting this plan of action and to student designer Marina Richmond for taking a class project to the next level.

As a biracial artist it was important for me to preserve the identity of both parties, especially for such a joyous story of alliance and friendship. It was a great opportunity to work with the Village of Whitesboro and the Oneida Indian Nation to recreate that moment as accurately as possible. – Marina Richmond, new seal designer

A little history

hugh white1813 – An incident that occurred  between an Oneida Indian and Hugh White sealed a lasting friendship and confidence. 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. After many trials, the chief became conqueror and he came up to Hugh White and challenged him. White dared not risk being brow beaten by an Indian nor did he want to be called a coward. In early manhood, he had been a wrestler, but of late felt he was out of practice. He felt conscious of personal strength and he concluded that even should he be thrown, that would be the lesser of two evils in the eyes of the Oneida Indians than to acquire the reputation of cowardice by declining. He accepted the challenge, took hold of the Indian and by a fortunate trip, succeeded almost instantly in throwing him. As he saw him falling, in order to prevent another challenge, he fell upon the Indian for an instant and it was some moments before he could rise. When the Indian finally rose, he shrugged his shoulders and was said to have muttered “UGH”, you good fellow too much”. Hugh White became a hero in the eyes of the Oneida Indians. This incident made more manifest the respect of the Indian for White. In all ways, White dealt fairly with the Oneida tribe and gained their confidence, which brought about good-will.Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 10.50.18 AM
Oneida Nation Council Turtle Clan representative Clint Hill, as reported by the Observer Dispatch:  said the description of the seal’s portrayal did not seem patently offensive, although he had not seen it in Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 10.50.04 AMperson.
The Oneidas typically had good relationships with area settlers, he said, and “Indian wrestling,” in which opponents place their feet together and use only one arm to try to throw the other person, is a common game among friends.
“With the so-called Indian wrestling, you just knocked the person off balance,” he said. “We used to do it all the time as kids.”
If anything, Hill said, he would want the image changed to more accurately portray the wrestling style and to show the proper headdress for the Indian in the image.
An Oneida would wear one with two feathers pointing up and one pointing down, he said.

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