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Sealed Their Fate

The village seal of Whitesboro, N.Y., “takes a little explaining,” former Mayor Richard Pugh once said. The seal shows a white settler apparently attacking a Native American; the village web site says the seal dates to the early 1900s and depicts “a friendly wrestling match between village founder Hugh White and an Oneida Indian.” (“White won the match, and the lasting respect and goodwill of the Oneidas.”) In a non-binding resolution, residents voted 157-55 to keep the seal as-is; it was already altered in 1963 to move White’s hands from the Indian’s neck to his shoulders. The current resolution was triggered after someone who doesn’t live there objected to the seal as racist. After the vote, current Mayor Patrick O’Connor announced no changes would be made, but days later, he announced that with the support of White’s descendants, the Oneida tribe and the village will work together to come up with a new seal. “In speaking with a lot of the residents that voted to keep the seal,” O’Connor said, “I think they were surprised at the negative attention that Whitesboro was receiving as a result of the vote. They wanted to preserve history at the time of the vote, but also want to ensure that Village is seen as the inclusive place that it is.” (RC/WKTV Utica) ...“Lasting respect and goodwill” is always easier to get when you can obtain it at gunpoint.
Original Publication Date: 24 January 2016
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 22.

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