Whitesboro, NY is finally changing town seal of a white man choking a Native American

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You Call It Choking, Whitesboro Residents Call It Wrestling

A small town in upstate New York has decided to change its official logo, which depicts a white man choking a Native American, after the racially insensitive imagery sparked controversy.

Earlier this month, the town gained national notoriety when it voted to keep its old seal for historical reasons. Residents of Whitesboro voted 157-55 to keep it in place.

But a day after The Daily Show aired a segment that lambasted the town for the decision, town officials have announced plans to change it.

Whitesboro Mayor Patrick O'Connor said Friday that village officials and members of the nearby Oneida Indian Nation will meet to discuss creation of a new image.

Whitesboro's website says the emblem dates to the early 1900s and depicts a historic wrestling match between village founder Hugh White and a local Oneida Indian.

According to town records, White was challenged by an Oneida Indian of "rather athletic form" and White won the match.

The wrestling match earned him respect and, "White became a hero in the eyes of the Oneida Indians" according to the town's account.

O'Connor said the new seal will preserve history with a more modern and culturally appropriate drawing.

The town seal appears on trucks, police cars, signs and documents owned by the district. Controversy has waxed and waned over the years and came to a head last summer when an online petition was posted by someone from out of town who saw the logo and took offense.

In this photo taken July 16, 2015, a welcome sign on the village green, Whitesboro, N.Y., displays the village seal. Whitesboro will let voters decide whether to keep the longtime village seal that has been called offensive to Native Americans. (Observer-Dispatch via AP)  ROME OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Village clerk and historian Dana Nimey-Olney said residents were presented several drawings to choose from, including settlers and Indians standing together.

The seal has been modified slightly over the years. After a notice of claim was filed in the 1970s calling the picture offensive, a new version was drawn with White's hands on the Indian's shoulders instead of on his neck, Nimey-Olney said.

Oneida Nation Chief Executive Officer and Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter told Syracuse.com the group was "happy to work with anyone who wants to make sure the symbols they are promoting are honoring and respecting all people."

"We applaud the village leaders' willingness to evaluate their own symbols and how to make sure they accurately reflect their community's core values," said Halbritter.

Additional information from the Associated Press.

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