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Tribe Says City’s Logo Featuring American Indian Is not an Offensive Caricature

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Members of the Ramapough Lenape Nation in southern New York and in parts of northern New Jersey say that the image of a Native American on the city’s letterhead, business cards and web site are not disparaging or derogatory, unlike the Redskins trademark.

In an article in The Record, the Franklin Lakes community said that they want to change their longstanding logo because of how it depicts Native Americans, but some Ramapough tribe members say, keep the logo.

The decision to change the logo came after asking graphic design students at Indian Hills High School to come up with a new one.

An online survey was then posted, asking residents to vote on either the logo with a Leni-Lenape tribal person on it, or the one without it. Seventy-four percent of the respondents picked a logo without the tribal member, but the Ramapough nation is objecting.

“There is a vast difference between using a dignified image that represents the native people and using a logo that shows a caricature of the American Indian,” Dwaine Perry, a Ramapough chief, told The Record.

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“We’re tired of people trying to decide what would offend us,” added Autumn Wind Scott, a Ramapough council member and head of the New Jersey Commission on Indian Affairs.

Also according toThe Record, Gregory C. Hart, the borough administrator in Franklin Lakes, said that he was surprised by the criticism from the Ramapough, but admitted that the borough did not ask the tribe for their thoughts on an alternative logo.

The town’s Mayor Frank Bivona said that the decision to change the logo would ultimately be decided by elected officials, but that they had not taken significant steps to vote on it.

But for now, the image – at least to the Ramapough nation -- is appropriate, and should not be removed for history’s sake.

“They would not be a municipality if not for the natives who initially settled this area,” Perry said.

You can read more about the town’s logo debate here.