It’s Time To Revisit Use Of Word ‘Indian’ On Plaques, Statues


It’s Time To Revisit

Use Of Word ‘Indian’

On Plaques, Statues

The Cooperstown Board of Trustees voted to reach out to the state Department of Education to update signage in Council Rock that refers to Native Americans as “Indians.” (Jim Kevlin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

The Indian Grave marker also needs an update, the trustees said.

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.

5 thoughts on “It’s Time To Revisit Use Of Word ‘Indian’ On Plaques, Statues

  1. Brian Hildenbrand

    Who in the h… said Indian is racist ? No white person has that right? And if it was offensive, don’t you think it would have been changed years ago!! All of a sudden white people are afraid of offending “1” person in the would so the world should change! Well I tell you what, the thought of these type of changes in history offends ME big time. Now back of young Mr. Benton, learn about the Indians and Cooperstown history before thinking about walking the streets and saying, “ change this, change that”

  2. Matt Lionetti

    You are all insane.
    Editing history is very, very dangerous. History taught us that.
    Is the “What’s next?” the “Other shoe” or the third leg of some righteous stool?
    Leave it be. What’s next? Book banning…burning?

  3. Franzi Kuhne

    Perhaps next will be the Statue of Liberty to erase these memorialized words which identify immigrants by so many other names :

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”[11]

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