South Philadelphia

Philly Business District Changing Logo That Misrepresents Native Americans

The East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District is planning to drop its current silhouetted image of a Native American in headdress that is seen throughout the shopping corridor

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A popular Philadelphia dining and shopping destination is planning to redesign its logo that it says misrepresents indigenous people.

The East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District announced Saturday its plans to remove the image of a Native American in headdress that it says misrepresents indigenous roots.

Billy Penn first reported that the EPABID has begun the process of redesigning its logo, featuring the side profile of an indigenous, for the first time in about 20 years. The publication also addressed past calls for the removal of a logo some saw as racist.

“Aside from being long overdue, the update is needed to address the misrepresentation of indigenous people that has inaccurately linked the silhouette of a Native American with the etymology of the Passyunk name from its Lenape roots,” the EPABID said in a statement posted to its website just days ahead of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which coincides with Columbus Day.

The logo marks the way along Passyunk Avenue, a South Philadelphia retail corridor featuring around 150 locally-owned business that is visited by people from all around the Philadelphia region. There are around 80 sidewalk medallions and numerous images and signage featuring the soon-to-be removed logo.

“The prevalence of an image portraying a Western Plains headdress not generally worn by Eastern tribes, including the Lenape, has been an unwitting slight against the original inhabitants of the region, and the organization recognizes the need for change," the EPABID said.

The business district is aiming to start the new design process, which will include public input, by the end of October, EPABID executive director Adam Leiter said. The goal is to unveil the new logo early in 2021.

The cost to remove the old logos and replace them with new ones has yet to be determined.

The plan is to also place a plaque or historical marker on the avenue. The civic leaders will work with representatives from the  Ramapough Lenape Nation and the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation on that project, the EPABID said.

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