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Residents in Newburyport, MA are demanding the removal of the current state flag and state seal due to potential racist undertones that support the concepts of colonization and white supremacy, specifically against Native Americans. 55 other municipalities in the state have already adopted these changes, with others considering the same. Proponents of the change would like to better represent the diversity in the commonwealth and address racism in the state.
The Massachusetts state flag features a blue shield with an image of a Native American (sometimes referred to as a Native American warrior or sachem) holding a bow in one hand and an arrow in the other. The Native American is depicted as standing in a field of white with a blue sky and gold setting sun behind him. The shield is surrounded by a wreath made of branches from a white oak tree (the state tree of Massachusetts) and a blue ribbon that reads "Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem," which translates to "By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty."
The design of the flag was adopted in 1901, but the image of the Native American dates back to the 17th century and was used as a symbol of the Massachusett tribe, who were the original inhabitants of the area. The blue and white colors of the flag are also a nod to the state's official flower, the Mayflower, which is white with blue petals. The gold setting sun on the flag is symbolic of the state's nickname, the "Bay State," as it is said to represent the dawning of a new day over Massachusetts Bay.
The Massachusetts state seal features a central image of an American Indian (sometimes referred to as a Native American) holding a bow and arrow, standing in a blue field surrounded by a gold circular border. The Indian is depicted as pointing downward, indicating peaceful intentions towards the white settlers who arrived in the region. In the background, there is an image of a colonial arm holding a sword, which is pointed downward as a sign of respect for the authority of the people.
Above the central image, there is a gold banner with the Latin phrase "Sigillum Reipublicae Massachusettensis," which translates to "Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." Surrounding the central image are a wreath of pine branches on the left and an oak branch on the right, which represent the state's timber resources. The blue field is said to symbolize the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, which borders the state to the east.
The Massachusetts state seal was designed in 1775, shortly after the beginning of the American Revolution, and has undergone several revisions over the years. The current version of the seal was adopted in 1890 and remains in use today as the official emblem of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.