The Colusa City Council will hold a contest for local artists or designers to come up with a new modern look to the city’s official seal.
The contest, which is part of the city’s re-branding efforts, is in lieu of hiring a professional design firm to produce a modern image that best highlights the city’s connection to the Sacramento River, while still considering heritage and culture.
“We have a lot of talented artists in our community and in our county,” said Councilwoman Denise Conrado. “I would love to see it be a competition among the artists here.”
It is unknown exactly when the city’s logo was actually adopted, officials said, but it has likely been in use since the 1970s. The logo is a circle divided into four quadrants. Three of the images accurately depict Colusa with a lush green tree, fish, and waterfowl.
The top of the quadrant depicts a Native American headdress that inaccurately depicts the aboriginal people of California before settlement, but was a popular caricature used throughout the U.S. by agencies and schools since the early 20th century.
The Colusa Police Department has also used an Indian Chief logo, and after 80 years, the Colusa High School, in 2011, officially abandoned the “Redskin” moniker and all images associated with the name.
Defenders of “warbonnet” mascots generally claim the intention is to honor Native Americans. Opponents believe historically inaccurate depictions of Native Americans are based upon stereotypes, and do not reflect cultural heritage.
While Colusa officials didn’t specify why they wanted to see a change in logo, City staff said that as the city expands its digital platforms and market reach, the time “is ripe” for Colusa to start rebranding itself, and changing the city’s seal is just the first step.
City Manager Jesse Cain said since efforts are underway to reshape Colusa as a landscape for new business opportunities and tourism, a new logo could be in order.
“It might be a good opportunity to do a facelift and see what direction we can move forward into the future,” Cain said.
Councilman Greg Ponciano said he would not support changing the logo, not only because it has been in use for as long as he could remember, but because of the expense that would go along with the change.
“If we want to rebrand, in a sense, of how we want to represent ourselves on our website or our Facebook page, I’m completely for that,” Ponciano said. “I just don’t know that there is a need to redo our logo and everything that comes along with that. It’s on every vehicle; it’s on every piece of equipment, fire department, everything. I just believe there is an opportunity to do both. Leave history to be history, and also rebranding.”
City Councilman Tom Reische said logos change all the time, and that it did not hurt for Colusa to consider looking at artist renderings of what a new logo could be.
“We don’t have to change the logo, but we can see what it might look like to be something else,” Reische said. “That doesn’t mean we have to choose (something new). I would love to make a little competition out of it and see what comes back.”
Because taxpayer funds cannot be used for contest prizes, Reische said he would take up a collection from city officials, and would guarantee a prize of at least $200, possibly more.
Colusa Mayor Josh Hill said he likes the idea of local artists creating a new brand for the city.
“It gives us a chance to see what they create – what they live everyday,” Hill said.