Controversial East Passyunk neighborhood logo to be redesigned

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For about two decades the silhouette of a Native American person in a headdress has been a large focal point in one East Passyunk neighborhood.

"I've always wondered about them, what they meant," said resident Daniela Morales.

But not everyone has been crystal clear as to the significance of the symbol.

"I've always wondered, you know, is it culturally inappropriate towards Native Americans?" asked Morales.

The answer has been up for debate for several years.

Hoping to put an end to the controversy is the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District.

The collective body announced over the weekend that they will be changing the logo that is prominently displayed on medallion-style utility covers and street signs.

A statement from the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District says in part, "Aside from being long overdue, the update is needed to address the misrepresentation of indigenous people that have inaccurately linked the silhouette of a Native American with the etymology of the Passyunk name from its Lenape roots."

Former New Jersey Councilman for the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, Rev. Dr. John Norwood, says he doesn't believe the effigies were meant to be offensive, but does feel they represent a misunderstanding.

"It is a crucial time to begin to take a look at things that represent an inaccurate view of history," Norwood said. "I would hate to see the representation of Native presence completely wiped away because so much of the history has been wiped away."

This discussion comes on the heels of a summer of protests and calls for racial justice as some Christopher Columbus statues were removed, vandalized or boxed away.

Many are now turning to celebrate Indigenous People's Day instead of Columbus Day.

"The history is very dark and very deep," said Cassie MItchell, an East Falls resident and native of the Modoc and Klamath tribes of Oregon.

Mitchell says knowledge is key in these discussions, be it a statue or, in this case, a logo.

"I think it's a huge celebration. I'm extremely happy for the Lenape people," she said.

The Lenape people are being included in the redesign of the logo, which is expected to be revealed early next year.
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