Mass. State Seal Depicting Native American Up for Review
A commission will be formed to recommend a new state seal and motto after Gov. Charlie Baker signed a legislative resolve on Monday.
The Massachusetts seal depicts a Native American man standing beneath a disembodied arm holding a sword. The Latin motto translates as "By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty." Tribal representatives have long said that the seal and motto are disrespectful.
The state Legislature adopted a resolution at the end of the session that calls for a panel to recommend a new or revised seal or motto by Oct. 1. The goal is to ensure that the motto and seal "faithfully reflect and embody the historic and contemporary commitments of the commonwealth to peace, justice, liberty and equality and spreading the opportunities and advantages of education."
United American Indians of New England said discussions about changing the seal represent a "first step toward repairing the harm done to Indigenous people."
"The imagery of the current flag and seal promotes a history of conquest, appropriation, and genocide," said Elizabeth Solomon, an elder of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag.
Solomon called upon Baker to sign the law "so we may start to work on imagining a seal for the Commonwealth that honors the Native people after whom the Commonwealth is named and truly represents the values, goals, and aspirations embraced by all who call the Commonwealth of Massachusetts home."
Under the resolve, the study commission will include five members appointed by the Commission on Indian Affairs, four members appointed by the governor, and seats to be filled by the heads of the Commission on Indian Affairs, the Mass. Historical Commission, the Mass. Foundation for the Humanities, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.