After initiating a yearlong review process that included outreach to Chicago-area Native communities, a Village committee has unanimously recommended that the Village of Skokie design a new Village seal for use on official documents and other materials, replacing the current Village seal featuring Native imagery that has been used since the late 1940s.
The Village’s Human Relations Commission has periodically discussed the appropriateness of the Village seal over several years, and in 2022 created a committee of stakeholders to review, solicit feedback, and provide a recommendation regarding the use of the seal. The Village Seal Review Committee was led by Maria Monastero Bueno, chair of the Village Human Relations Commission, who worked in partnership with Kim Vigue, executive director of the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, and Skokie resident Jasmine Gurneau, director of Native American & Indigenous Affairs at Northwestern University.
Designed after the community of Niles Center was renamed Skokie, which is derived from the Potawatomi word for “marsh,” the Village seal features an image of an Indigenous individual over an arrowhead background with Skokie’s incorporation date and “Village of Vision.”
As part of its review process, the Village Seal Review Committee hosted a December 2022 listening session, inviting members of 17 Chicago-area Native community groups and organizations and reaching out to representatives of local Native residents to encourage their participation.
Following feedback from the listening session and after extensive research on the subject, the Village Seal Review Committee determined:
- Peer-reviewed research shows that Native mascots and imagery can have a harmful effect on Native communities and the greater population
- The Native imagery used in the seal is not a culturally or historically accurate representation of the Native people who inhabited the area that is now Skokie
- Some members of the Native community and the greater community find the seal image and its depiction of a Native person to be inappropriate
For these reasons, the committee unanimously recommended that the Village begin the process of developing a new, culturally appropriate design that reflects the rich history and promising future of the Village. Maria Monastero Bueno, Jasmine Gurneau, and Village Trustee Khem Khoeun will lead the committee to develop a new seal in collaboration with the Skokie community.