Meet the new face of the Fulton City School District.
He’s strong, proud and athletic. He’s a member of the Onondaga Nation and he walked around this area when it was little more than trees and a lake.
The proposed new logo for the school district’s athletic teams and high school made its first public appearance Tuesday night before the Board of Education.
It’s the result of months of discussion, including a community poll that found overwhelming support for keeping the Native American icon that has represented the school district for decades. Those results were put in the hands of teacher Rob Lescarbeau, a Fulton native who is descended from the Cree tribe of Canada.
“I’ve been researching this issue for years,” he said, and jumped at the chance to use what he’d learned to guide the creation of the new logo.
Lescarbeau did more research, though. He combed through the records at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, a college founded by Jesuit priests who had a strong relationship with the Iroquois tribes. He also visited the Museum of Natural History in New York City, to see, among other things, skulls of ancient Native Americans. He wanted the face in the new icon to be as realistic as possible.
He poured that research into local artist Ben Jerred, who teaches art in Fulton’s elementary schools and who painted the large mural of life on the Oswego Canal that graces the side of the Salvation Army building downtown.
After many revisions, a final logo emerged.
It shows a strong Native American, standing in the water of Lake Neatahwanta. His face is turned upwards, to the sun; the sun’s shadows outline his strong arms and chest. He wears the headdress of the Onondaga Nation. One feather stands straight up and one feather points downward, in the style that indicates a member of the Onondaga tribe.
His belt depicts the wampum belt insignia of Chief Hiawatha, which shows the Six Nations of the Iroquois tied together to the Great Tree of Peace.
In one hand is a tomahawk, its handle wrapped in leather and beaded in the Iroquois style. The other hand holds six arrows, signifying not only the Six Nations, but the six schools of the school district. Six green trees are in the background of a red sky.
“These were images I had in my head a long time,” Lescarbeau said. It’s intended to show strength, pride and peace. “It’s his skill that gave this thing life,” he said of Jerred.
Jerred said it was hardest to get the face right. He didn’t want it to be a caricature. “If I start seeing it around, that’s when it’s gonna hit me,” he said. “It’s gonna freak me out.”
He’ll be seeing it around town soon. The board saw the design on products such as T-shirts, a coffee mug and arm patch, produced by committee member John McGraw, who owns the printing and embroidery business Uniforms, Etc. in Fulton.Â The board will make a final decision on the logo in September.
It will replace the logos now in use, which include a Native American head wearing a headdress with a feather configuration that does not belong to any Iroquois nation and a block letter “F”. Because the design is unique, the district can trademark the logo.
“You’ll see it more and more,” said Lescarbeau, who believes it will become a visual identification for the school and the city. “They’ll know darn well it’s Fulton,” he said.