The Town of North Hempstead has begun a process to redesign its town seal to better honor the Native Americans who once inhabited the area.
The current town seal, which was adopted in 1935, is an illustration of a Native American that represents "Tackapausha," the sachem of the Algonquins who lived in the area, according to former North Hempstead historian Howard Kroplick. Tackapausha helped negotiate the sale of the land, which is now North Hempstead and Hempstead, to European settlers in 1643.
After seeing several institutions around the country change their imagery and names because of the damage it was doing to the Native American communities, Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the town had a responsibility to explore the option of redesigning the town seal.
"The idea is we're looking forward to creating a new seal that will truly honor the Native Americans who first inhabited this land," Bosworth said. "We're always evolving, we're always growing and so we wanted to have a seal that is more representative of what actually took place in terms of the origins of the Town of North Hempstead."
The town board voted earlier this month to hire Wampum Magic, Inc. to provide illustration and design work related to redesigning the seal. Wampum is a Native American-owned and -operated company located on the Poospatuck reservation in Mastic. The town will pay Wampum $19,500 for its service.
North Hempstead is planning to form the Town Seal Review Committee, which will include a representative from the Matinecock Nation, Chief Harry Wallace from the Unkechaug Nation, town historian Ross Lumpkin, town representatives and other community members, Bosworth told Newsday.
Wallace said he is happy with the process and hopes the design benefits all parties.
"I think it's an appropriate way to do things, in consultation with our native people on Long Island, to reflect a more historically accurate depiction of the relationship," Wallace said. "The town I believe is receptive to that and I'm happy for that."
The town also plans on creating a permanent educational display, to give residents information on the town’s Native American history, officials said. A Wampum friendship belt depicting the original agreement between the settlers and the original Native American inhabitants also will be created and featured by North Hempstead.
Bosworth said the process will take time and will likely not be ready by the time she leaves office in December.