US town of Whitesboro to change official seal of white man choking a native

Townspeople initially voted to keep the seal but have reversed it

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The Independent US

A US town will be changing its controversial official seal, which depicts a white man apparently throttling a Native American.

The town of Whitesboro, in New York, gathered national attention when its people cast a vote on whether or not to keep the seal.

Earlier this month, the townspeople voted 157-55 to keep the seal, but have since U-turned on the decision amid controversy.

Several US media outlets credited the change of mind to Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, which aired a segment lambasting the town for its vote.

The widely-shared segment showed the mayor of Whitesboro, Patrick O’Connor, insisting the seal depicted a “friendly wrestling match” between the founder of the town, Hugh White, and a Native American.

Mr O’Connor tells presenter Jessica Williams: “The goal of the match was to push your opponent off-balance… The seal is based on historical events that fostered a good relationship between our founder and the American Indians.”

The day after the segment was aired, town officials announced plans to change the seal, reports Mashable.

The town would be working with the Oneida Indian nation to create a new official seal that was more inclusive.

According to the New York Times, Mr O’Connor said in a statement: “In speaking with a lot of residents that voted to keep the seal, I think they were surprised at the negative attention that Whitesboro was receiving as a result of the vote.”

He said the townspeople “wanted to preserve history” while making sure the town was “seen as the inclusive place that it is”.

A representative of the Oneida Indian Nation, Ray Halbritter, told NY Times they were more than happy to be a part of helping “anyone who wants to make sure the symbols they are promoting are honouring and respecting all people”.

He added: “We applaud the village leaders’ willingness to evaluate their own symbols and how to make sure they accurately reflect their community’s core values.”