Debate over a village seal in a village in upstate New York could have easily have been a Battle Creek controversy.

The town of Whitesboro in New York just voted to keep its controversial town seal, by more than two to one.  People are saying the seal is racist, because it depicts a white settler choking a Native American.  Historians say the seal depicts a friendly wrestling match between Hugh White, who founded the town, and a local Native American chief.  White won the match and the respect of the local tribe.  But it's a really awkward drawing, and it looks more like the white guy is choking a defenseless Native American.

Photo: Village of Whitesboro

Whitesboro Mayor Patrick O'Connor says it's not meant to be offensive, and the issue has been around for decades, but it's the first time it's been brought to a town-wide vote.

 

 

If you ever wondered who put the “Battle” in “Battle Creek”, it goes back to stories about  a skirmish between surveying settlers and Native Americans.  Whether that actually happened or not is debatable.   But Battle Creek’s official seal is a depiction of a surveyor clubbing a Native American.

City of Battle Creek

 

You probably won’t see that “official” seal.   In 1981, the city adopted a new seal to place on promotional things like city vehicles, business cards, and press releases. It shows the faces of a Native American and a surveyor, but no weapons.

Battle Creek Unofficial Seal

The city still uses the seal on official documents, but it’s hard to make out on most documents.  You can see the official seal on a stained glass window in a stairway in Battle Creek’s city hall.