On Saturday, September 12th, annual town meeting put the town of Wellfleet on record in support of establishing a special commission – – to invite Native leaders of the area now known as Massachusetts to sit with state legislators – – to redesign the state flag and seal. That vote makes Wellfleet the 40th municipality to go on record in support of changing the white supremacist state flag and seal of Massachusetts.
The other cities and towns that have voted to change the Massachusetts flag and seal are: Amherst, Ashfield, Bernardston, Brewster, Brookline, Buckland, Cambridge, Charlemont, Chatham, Colrain, Conway, Cummington, Eastham, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Hadley, Heath, Leverett, Leyden, Lincoln, Montague, New Salem, Northampton, Northfield, Orange, Orleans, Pelham, Plainfield, Provincetown, Rowe, Royalston, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Warwick, Wendell, Whately, Windsor. We thank the organizers who gathered petition signatures to place the resolution of support for changing the flag and seal on all these town warrants and city council agendas!
The bill to change the Massachusetts flag and seal passed the Senate UNANIMOUSLY on July 28th of this year. The Senate gave the bill a new number – S.2848 – and sent the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee. Then the legislature, due to the pandemic, voted to go into an unusual extended session.
That gives us a little more time to try to get the House to bring S.2848 to a final vote.
The bill to change the flag and seal is one of three bills backed by MaIndigenousAgenda.org that still have a chance of passage this year. The other two are S.247 / H.443 to ban the use of Native mascots in public schools in the Commonwealth and S.1811 / H.2948 to protect Native Heritage. Right now, all across the state, people are contacting their legislators to try to build more support for all three of these urgently needed bills, with the backing of Indigenous people.
As activists do the hard work on the local level of demanding that public schools retire their Native mascots – adding since this summer Barnstable, Braintree, Grafton, Hanover, Medfield, Pittsfield and Winchester to the growing list of districts that have finally agreed to change their mascots – a statewide ban is urgently needed. As many studies have shown, young people who attend schools with racist, stereotyped Native mascots are actively harmed by their continued use – whether they are Native students or students from the majority culture.
If Maine can ban the use of Native sports mascots in public schools, as it did last year, so can Massachusetts. The time has come.
Our state flag and seal – with a white hand holding a sword over a Native man’s head – has been a badge of infamy for the Colonial society in Massachusetts since the Puritans brought the seal over in 1629. Ever since then, Massachusetts has maintained an official seal showing a Native man with one downward pointed arrow – first with the words “Come Over and Help Us” coming out of his mouth, now with a Latin motto beneath his feet that translates: “Peace Under the Sword…”
Mississippi retired its state flag with the Confederate Stars and Bars this summer, leaving Massachusetts alone still flying an overtly white supremacist state flag. If Mississippi take down its racist flag, then so can Massachusetts.
Please help us get these three bills passed. If you can help contact state legislators, asking them to go on record in support of the MaIdigenousAgenda backed legislation, email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Together, we can protect Native cultural artifacts from sale at private auction (S.1811 / H.2948) ban the use of racist, stereotyped Native mascots in public schools (S.247 / H.443), and change the flag and seal of Massachusetts.