Pinole's City Seal

City Seal

History of the City Seal

The current City of Pinole seal is an image of a Native American man with arms crossed against a natural background containing water, mountains, birds, sun, and sky with a floral border frame and text: City of Pinole California 1903.

The original inhabitants of what we now know as Pinole were members of the Lisjan (Ohlone) nation, and the area was referred to as Huchiun and Carquin territories. Historical documents from City records report that within the geographical area of Pinole, most of the Ohlone population disappeared by the early 1800's due to foreign (European) disease and coercive displacement efforts by European settlers.

Contest Winner 1964In1963, the Pinole Chamber of Commerce held a contest  to select a new City seal (there are no records regarding the prior City seal). Twelve entries were submitted between July 19 – October 12, 1963. On November 14, 1963, former City Engineer Lloyd Roberts, won the contest for his design featuring a Spanish conquistador facing a stone bowl of pinolli, or pinole (pee-noh-lay). The design was criticized by Mrs. Don Arbuckle, wife of a former Sachem, or chief, for the inaccurate depiction of pinolli. 

Albeit winning the contest, Roberts’ seal design was not adopted as the official City seal. The Pinole Chamber of Commerce went ahead and published the program (brochure) for the Fiesta del Pinole with a different seal design by an unknown artist resembling Pinole’s modern-day design. It had a rendition of a bearded Native American man from an unidentified tribe standing with arms crossed beside a large sun, framed by a flowered border. The character featured in this design was believed to be drawn according to Father Crespi’s description of the Ohlone people written in his diary in 1772. On November 13, 1964, the image was submitted to City Council for adoption.

Fiesta Del Pinole 1964There was widespread disagreement around the accuracy in portrayal of the man in the design submitted by the Pinole Chamber of Commerce. An anthropologist from UC Berkeley wrote a letter to Council on March 17, 1965, refuting the accuracy of the way in which the man was represented, and, to minimize the possibility of inaccurate representation, suggested using a woman on the seal instead. Pinole became divided in opinion about the man on the seal having a beard, and if it was culturally representative. The division about the beard drew media attention, and an article titled “A Bearded Indian from Greater Pinole” was published about it in the Oakland Tribune. Notably, census data from 1960 shows that the population of Pinole - the people who argued the accuracy of the portrayal of a Native American man - was 99.4% white.

City Seal 1965Another design, most closely resembling the City of Pinole’s modern-day seal, drawn by Daniel Harvey, a local Pinole artist, was submitted to the City Council on January 23, 1965. His design was later adopted as the official City seal on April 5, 1965. It portrayed a Native American man with arms crossed against a natural background containing water, mountains, birds, sun, and sky with a floral border frame and text: City of Pinole California 1903.

City SealIn the 1990’s, the seal design and color scheme was slightly modernized. The City of Pinole currently uses this modern version of the seal and it can be found throughout City facilities and is used in documents and media as the primary logo.

A New Direction
Recently, the City of Pinole was prompted to examine its branding strategy as part of the Communication and Engagement Plan, adopted by City Council on October 18, 2022. Since then, City staff has taken steps to explore other seal and logo possibilities and whether it is appropriate to continue using the existing seal.

On February 14, 2023, City staff met with Corrina Gould, the Tribal Chair of the Confederated Villages of Lisjan (Ohlone), to seek consult about the continued use of the existing seal. Ms. Gould shared her observation that the man portrayed on the current City seal "does not look like a traditional Ohlone person and has phenotypes of someone with European heritage." She emphasized that the City should not use a Native person as part of the seal. After years of fighting against the use of Native mascots, the Tribe expressed their support of the City of Pinole's new direction of changing the seal/logo to omit the "Ohlone" man. 

At a City Council meeting on March 21, 2023, City staff recommended that the City of Pinole move away from using a human character on the seal. The Council and the public provided feedback on a preliminary set of seal designs. The Pinole City Council then approved the formation of The City Seal Ad Hoc Subcommittee to further explore options for a new City seal.

The City Seal Ad Hoc Subcommittee is actively working to create a new set of seal and logo designs on which the community will have the opportunity to provide input. We anticipate that the City will have a new City seal and logo to present to the City Council for adoption in early 2024. 

Share Your Ideas

Question MarkA seal is the official emblem of a city which is traditionally used to validate official documents and decrees. A logo is a modern mark, usually imagery, a letter, or word, that represents an institution’s core identity and can be used to promote public recognition. Both the seal and the logo should be immediately recognizable, memorable, and collectively provide a visual glimpse into the City’s history, present, and future.

We are gathering community input for the creative design process through Fall 2023. The Subcommittee aims to present new design alternatives to City Council in early 2024.

The first survey collected the community's input about what symbols, colors, and concepts they thought represent Pinole. Consultants used the survey results to design logo concepts that the City Seal Ad Hoc Subcommittee is reviewing along with additional feedback from the community about the designs. 


Using Basketry as a Design Inspiration

After reviewing survey results, we discovered that many residents still want to see Native Americans represented in the logo/seal. The idea of using Ohlone baskets as an inspiration came up through discussion with the City Seal Ad Hoc Subcommittee.

Basketry symbolizes the weaving fabric of a community. It is an element of many cultures that is important to people. Baskets can also reflect diversity.

If you look closely at the new logo concepts, you will see that many of them have indigenous basket design elements woven in.

You still have an opportunity to share ideas about how our wonderful city of Pinole can be represented in a logo! View logo
concept designs and submit your ideas through this brief survey.