Commission Launches to Redesign MA Seal, Motto
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
BOSTON - Native American leaders in Massachusetts are coming together to study and recommend changes to the state's seal, flag and motto.
It's part of a new law establishing a commission to re-examine these symbols. The state seal, pictured on the flag, currently features a Native person and the severed arm of a white person, ostensibly a colonial settler.
Jean-Luc Pierite, board president at the North American Indian Center of Boston, said the person's clothes and weapon are styled after violent events between Natives and settlers. The motto is in Latin, but Pierite said it translates roughly to, "We seek peace, but by the sword."
"There's a lot of colonial violence that's coded within that imagery," he said, "and so the purpose of the bill is not necessarily to relitigate that history but to take this opportunity to forge a new symbol."
Pierite noted that Native communities in the Commonwealth have advocated for this change for the last 35 years. He said the commission will have five lineal descendants of historical tribes, as well as five designees chosen by the governor who have cultural and historical knowledge of the seal itself.
Pierite said the recent momentum was built, in part, in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last summer. He said challenges to the social structures that reinforce racism have led to some city council buildings, including in Cambridge, opting to remove the state flag from their chambers, and many schools taking down their Native mascots.
"We're seeing a lot of political pressure coming from the grassroots and from municipal governments towards this change, and this recognition of this settler colonial history," he said.
He said his group is working to get a bill onto the legislative agenda this session to prohibit Native mascots. In addition to reckoning with the past, he added, it's crucial to address the current racial disparities exacerbated by the pandemic.
get more stories like this via email
This afternoon, members of the public will get to have a say on the management plan for the first new aquatic preserve created in Florida in 32 years…
May is Community Action Month, and local agencies helping low-income families hope Congress signs off on a plan to bolster and modernize their …
After two decades of drought and with no relief in sight, many Utahns are looking for ways to conserve water, and for many residents, part of the …
May is Wildfire Awareness Month, and state officials are encouraging Coloradans to get up to speed on prevention and emergency-exit strategies if …
The White House is fielding pitches from top Democratic lawmakers about their desire to dramatically expand student loan forgiveness. While a …
Health and Wellness
As the school year winds down, education leaders are shedding light on increased mental-health demands among students, including thoughts of suicide…
A new report found dishonest employers steal from some 213,000 people in Ohio each year by paying them less than the minimum wage; and it is just one …
Illinois has a new law banning the sale and possession of "ghost guns," essentially untraceable firearms that are sold in kit-form online or at gun sh…