Massachusetts to Remove Another Native American Image [OPINION]
Once the leadership of the Massachusetts Legislature finally decides to reopen the State House, there will be hearings on replacing the state seal and motto. It appears as though another image of a Native American is about to get removed in Massachusetts.
The State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee co-chaired by New Bedford State Rep. Tony Cabral and Taunton Senator March Pacheco was given until October 1, 2021, to submit recommendations for a new seal and motto. Since several of the 19 committee positions have yet to be filled, the panel is seeking a delay. Besides, you cannot conduct public hearings if the public is not permitted to enter the State House.
The current seal featured prominently on the Massachusetts flag contains an image of an Algonquin Indian. The Algonquin-speaking tribes, including the Wampanoag, roamed these parts many moons ago. The Indian stands with an arrow in his hand that is facing the ground, a symbol that he seeks peace.
The seal also includes an image of an arm holding a broadsword above the head of the Indian. The sword is a representation of the state's motto Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem ("By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty"). Some insist the arm is that of a white guy and is menacing to the Indian.
The seal and the motto have served Massachusetts well since 1885. Efforts to change them have been unsuccessful, but this time I think the warrior is toast.
The Wampanoag of Gay Head (Aquinnah) is concerned that removing the Dartmouth High School sports team logo might be a step towards erasing positive images of Native Americans in Massachusetts and want it to remain. I agree. In my opinion, dropping the Algonquin warrior from the Massachusetts seal could have the same result.
There is no widespread outcry to change the seal or the motto. There has been too much rewriting of history already. Leave the seal and motto alone.
The committee's first vote should be to disband.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.