and Let’s Make This the Year We Stop the Use of Native Mascots in Massachusetts!
The year 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s arrival and the onset of the colonial conquest of America.
The genocidal campaign to claim the land and resources of the Native Nations of this continent got its start here on Cape Cod, where the invader’s first act was to rob the graves of Wampanoag people at Corn Hill, in modern Truro, and steal seed corn. In the following centuries, European colonizers brought Native Nations epidemics of illness, famine, disenfranchisement, massacre and the forced removal and assimilation of their younger generations from the East Coast to the West. It is up to us to reckon with this history and deal with the modern-day consequences of the despoliation of Native land and the natural environment at the hands of European settlers and their descendants.
Massachusetts — where the colonial campaign of forced removal and land-taking got its real start — is the place to focus our efforts in 2020. Our state retains the shameful flag of colonial genocide — with the sword of Myles Standish, military commander of the Pilgrims, still poised to strike above the head of a Native American, and the Latin motto: “Peace Under the Sword…” That is the official image we teach young people in our public schools when they study the Massachusetts flag. Meanwhile, 38 of our public school districts continue to use overtly racist Native themed sports mascots – even as our neighboring state of Maine, once a part of Colonial Massachusetts, enacted legislation in 2019 to ban the use of Native sports mascots in public schools statewide.
In the last 18 months, 39 cities and towns in Massachusetts voted at city councils and annual town meetings to establish a special commission to invite Native leaders of the Commonwealth to sit with state legislators and design a new state flag and seal – one that would reflect the values of peace and harmony between all the people who now live in Massachusetts. This campaign — coordinated by changethemassflag.com — has drawn notice from media outlets across the state, including a good article this summer in the New York Times. Legislators have stepped forward in record numbers this session to co-sponsor the legislation to change the state flag and seal (which has been held up in committee at the legislature for the past 35 years)! Thanks to our grassroots organizing and advocacy for change, we now have 39 state senators and representatives signed on to H.2776/S.1877 — to change the state flag and seal.
The eyes of the world will be on Massachusetts in 2020 as we celebrate the 400th anniversary and struggle to re-interpret America’s founding myth of peaceful contact between Euro-Colonial invaders and the Native Nations of this land. Help us make sure we use this opportunity to advance the causes and elevate the voices of Native Nations — here in Massachusetts and across the continent.
Changethemassgflag.com has received two $1000 matching pledges to help us raise money to print informational fliers, bring speakers to more communities, and broaden our grassroots organizing in 2020. We are asking you to help us meet those matching pledges with small or large contributions of your own, so we can add more town meetings and city councils to the column of municipalities in favor of a new state flag and seal. With your help, we can make the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing the year we end the use of racist state and school mascots in Massachusetts.
Help Change the Flag and Seal!
Thanks to the help of Traprock Peace Center (go to the bottom of their homepage to donate, and note that you are giving to Change the Flag and Seal) all funds raised from this appeal will go towards reproducing leaflets in Spanish and in English, at a union print shop, to advance the grassroots campaign, and to pay stipends and travel expenses for Native speakers and their allies to advocate for passage of the bill to change the flag and seal, along with the rest of the Massachusetts Indigenous legislative package. The legislature will have a chance to vote to ban the use of Native sports mascots in public schools (H.443/S.247), to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day (H.3665), and to change the Massachusetts flag and seal by the end of June 2020. For more information on these related bills, visit maindigenousagenda.org.
The next six months are crucial. Thank you for your support!