VILLAGE BOARD CONCLUDES:
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – It’s time, Village Trustee MacGuire Benton said, to revise the Indian Grave and two plaques at Council Rock.
“The sign refers to Native Americans as ‘Indians’,” he said during the Village Board meeting this evening. “It’s racially insensitive and incorrect, and it needs to be updated.”
Trustee Richard Sternberg made the motion to reach out to the state Department of Education, which installed the signs as WPA projects in the 1930s, to update the language.
“We need to get ahead of this,” he said. “That way, we can acknowledge that we recognize this and immediately sent it on to be corrected.”
“We’re not the only municipality making these changes,” said Benton. “I’m sure the state Department of Education is familiar with this request.”
However, Trustee Joe Membrino cautioned against jumping too quickly to make the change. “We shouldn’t be assuming the language,” he said. “We need to do our due diligence.”
As part of the TEP project on Pioneer Street, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch said that the village had to work with Mohawk and Oneida peoples to assure compliance, and that they still have connections to the tribal organizations that they can reach out to in order to clarify the proper language for the sign update.
“It’s not about taking down the signs,” said Tillapaugh. “It’s about using language that is culturally appropriate.”
No one mentioned that one of Cooperstown’s most famous statues, in Lakefront Park.