There will never again be a relevant time to ponder hyper-local iconography, so — as seven CNY counties prepare to assemble a regional reopening plan — let’s take a look at the team.
I hope that the CNY League will do better with their recreation of Northeastia than Madison County is doing with its recreation of the New York State seal. The New York seal is already trying to do too much, and I’m not sure what Madison County is trying to communicate here with a very well-dressed colonial and a Native American with the wrong headdress and shorts. I’m not sure if this is the symbolic direction we want to go in.
Oneida County’s seal just cuts to the chase and features… someone who may or may not be an Oneida or a Mohawk. Notwithstanding the general thorny issue of Native mascots, two feathers straight up actually does not represent any of the Haudenosaunee nations. (Oneidas have two feathers up and one down, and Mohawks have three feathers up. Maybe this was a compromise.)
Can we do better? (If the Village of Whitesboro can come around and get it right, you guys can too.)
Oswego County obviously had their seal redone sometime in the last 20 years, and it is pretty slick and modern, with carefully chosen clip art and a very cool Fort Oswego-shaped shield.
Maybe it’s a little too pretty. The nuclear symbol in the center is spot on from a design standpoint, but a little alarming when you think about it harder. That said, it hits all of the county’s many bases.
In Onondaga County, where the 19th century never ended, the iconography is just as complicated, but the message is more blunt. This seal takes no prisoners. Pastoral, yes — a sheaf of wheat (no longer grown here), a placid cow — but provoke them, and you will be driven back by the sound of the drums. There is not much PPE left, but plenty of shot, and they also have Justice’s Terrible Swift Sword. (Incidentally, the seal of the Onondaga County Legislature features a beehive.)
Cortland County also has got a nice pile of projectiles at the ready, although I don’t know if those are cannonballs or just potatoes. Well, it’s all good.
Cayuga County was into social distancing before social distancing was cool. Stay inside your cabin, crack open a book, use the threshing flail to amuse your cat. Clearly they will be the “Quiet, but Smart” member of the team.
Herkimer County’s seal is, of course, a depiction of General Herkimer, directing the battle, pointing to the future, while expiring from his mortal wound. This is actually pretty deep. War is hell. The fight against the pandemic is hell. People will die. Some businesses may never come back. But we must press onward together toward the sunlit uplands — or at least, the “new normal.”