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Mural depicts true Webutuck Warrior


WEBUTUCK — Despite being born in Italy, local artist Alex Shundi is wary of Native American stereotypes.

"When it comes to sports mascots, if it offends the tribes involved then they should get rid of it," Shundi said. "We’re so used to having Native American names on things like ‘Jeep Apaches.’ What if there was a car called ‘The Plymouth Jew?’ People wouldn’t like that very much."

Shundi recently completed a new mural in the Webutuck High School foyer that displays the life of a real Webutuck Indian family, which includes a display of their life in winter, spring, summer and fall.

"In the mural I wanted to display the totality of the whole family," Shundi said. "I did a lot of research on this to make this as accurate as possible. The current logo of the high school shows a goofy Hollywood Buffalo Indian with a full headdress which is not indicative of the real Webutuck Indian. You just can’t stereotype a feather hat to all Indian tribes."

According to an e-mail written by Superintendent of Schools Richard Johns, the mural is the culmination of over two years of planning.

"The mural project began with a question to the appropriateness of the then Sioux Indian logo that was being employed by the Webutuck School District," Johns wrote. "A group of individuals studied this question for a long period of time and determined that, while the Webutuck warrior symbol was appropriate, the Sioux warrior should be replaced with a Mohican warrior."

The Mohican tribe inhabited the Webutuck area at the time of early European exploration.

A logo committee was formed which decided that the Sioux warrior painting on the wall of the high school gymnasium should be replaced by a mural of a Mohican family.

The committee commissioned Shundi to paint the mural on site as an artist in residence in order for his work to be used as a learning opportunity for students.

"My wife used to run a store in Amenia that sold Native American items, so I have a huge collection," Shundi said. "I brought in actual Native American artifacts, including tools, and displayed them to the students. I also told them stories as the mural was created."

A special dedication ceremony and formal unveiling of the mural will be held on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Webutuck High School auditorium.

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