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Commission to study changing the state seal that now shows a sword about to lop off a Native American's head

WBZ reports Gov. Baker yesterday signed off on a measure creating a commission to look at designing a less racist state seal, even if the current one is somewhat less racist than the original one, which showed the Native American with a thought balloon begging the English to come help him.

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It's basically cultural appropriation to use a Native American place/tribal name for a geographic and political entity which is entirely the creation of white men.

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This is an interesting idea that I hadn't thought of-- thanks for bringing it up!

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In my original reply to ScottB I was going to propose “Genocide-achusetts” as a replacement name, but maybe the measured proposal of the “Commonwealth of Wallaston” would be palatable to a wider swath of people.

Since every resident of the state claims to live in Boston already.

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New names needed then for Cohasset, Scituate, Mashpee, Neponset, Agawam (Both of them), Aquinnah, Mattapoisett, Nahant, Nantucket, Natick, Acushnet, Cotuit, Mattapan just to name a few. Other places too like Tuckernuck, Annisquam, Woronoco etc.

I mean, if you are going to change everything, why stop? Go get 'em. We should remove these legacies of nearly 400 years of death and despair, right?

Can we go back to calling Aquinnah Gay Head soon? That should be first on the list.

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If you have a company outing and call it a "pow-wow"...THAT's cultural appropriation. Massachusetts was literally the name of the Great Blue Hill area and, if anything, it's exactly the opposite of cultural appropriation to keep calling the place the same name it was given by the people who were here first and named it.

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most of us were patronizing him. this is obviously the correct take.

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There's nothing that connects the western part of the state to what Native Americans called Massachusett/Moswetuset apart from the political entity set up by white men in the 17th and 18th centuries. If you want to call the Great Blue Hill what the Native Americans called it, that seems reasonable, but borrowing the name for something none of them had much choice in creating (and in which the vast majority of Native Americans were massacred or devastated by European diseases) seems like, well, cultural appropriation.

Of course, renaming Amherst would be an even better place to start.

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i apologize, i mistook you for a troll.

Is using the word "pow-wow" supposed to be racist now? That's just loco.

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https://www.insider.com/native-american-offensive-racist-things-2020-1#s...

You don't get to decide what is offensive to other people.

...while I agree entirely with your point, the comment you are responding to was intended as a joke, and the object was those who think the use of "pow-wow" is just fine and dandy.

People are still arguing about whether the former name of the Washington football team is racist, so I wouldn't assume that the previous poster was being sarcastic. I hear this sort of thing all the time. I mean, some people apparently think that fucking blackface isn't racist if you wear it on Halloween, for fuck's sake.

...with the fact that there are people oblivious to even the most blatant racism, but I am guessing that the add-on of "That's just loco" when talking about appropriating words from other languages was intended as a tongue-in-cheek jab at those who appropriate such words.

Excellent! It's racism is obviously the worst aspect, but it's also just a terrible flag. I hope it gets the boot ASAP.

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The commission will be made up of people who are descendants of tribes located in Massachusetts, lawmakers and other appointees who have “relevant cultural and historical expertise.”

Why exclude/include anyone on account of race?

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It's good to include members of that group in the decision-making process when trying to mitigate that harm, to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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?

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STOP THE SEAL!

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Take it to the commercial fishing catch limits thread

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MAD!

Time to take a break from the site..

We'll leave the light on.

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There's no need to announce your departure.

Your cogent and thoughtful commentary on these topics.

@adam, the sword depicted at the top of the seal of the commonwealth is a symbol of the revolutionary war per Wikipedia. I’m a big fan of your site, thanks for all your hard work!

I think it makes sense to change the seal.

But Adam, where do you get that the sword is about to decapitate the Indian? There's nothing in the official explanation about that, and it's not what I thin of when I see the seal.

The sword represents our victory in the Revolution (and may have been adapted from the Bedford Flag), so it has nothing to do with the Native American underneath it - except it was stuck on the seal in such a way that it looks like it's about to drop down and decapitate him.

It's better, I suppose than what it replaced - a thought balloon that had the Native American pleading "Come over and help us!" to the British settlers. If you want to see that in, um, action, go to the Old State House and stand on the Washington Street side and look up and you'll see a plate with the original seal.

I’d never heard of this Bedford Flag, SO interesting! I think an elegant solution to the seal problem might be to replace the image of the Native American on the shield with an image of a pine tree. The pine tree is well established as a symbol of New England and was depicted on the ‘New England Flag’, the ‘Bunker Hill Flag’, the ‘Massachusetts Naval Militia Flag’ and the original ‘Maine State Flag’.

In addition to the pine tree, perhaps ‘The Sacred Cod’ could also be incorporated? Another interesting and well established symbol of Massachusetts. Perhaps just below the tree, or even on the wide part of the tree itself.

Worst and best US State Flags: https://medium.com/@karlhideyo/american-state-flags-ranked-from-best-to-...

MA is the 7th worst.