Massachusetts Moves To Strike Its Flag As Offensive To Native Americans

We have been discussing the various statues, memorials, and dedications being struck around the country. I have been critical of some of these moves as erasing history that should be part of a broader understanding of all citizens. Now leaders are lining up to strike the Massachusetts flag because of its depiction of a Native American. Cambridge declared the flag recently as “offensive” and demanded its replacement. There appears however some disagreement on what is offensive with some pointing to the depiction of a Native American while others say the problem is the arm holding a sword.

The flag captures the history of the commonwealth, including its Native American heritage. It features an Algonquian Native American with the arrow pointing down to symbolize peace. The figure itself is believed to be a depiction of the Wampanoag tribe leader Ousamequin, who signed the first treaty between the tribe and the pilgrims in 1621. That is the event that led to the story of the first Thanksgiving.

The blue ribbon bears the state motto Ense Petit Placidam, Sub Libertate Quietem (“By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty”).  Above the shield is the bent arm holding a broadsword. The arm is meant to be that of Myles Standish. While formally adopted in 1908, it have been used in the commonwealth since the Revolutionary War, including by the Massachusetts Navy.

That is a lot of history, but critics are now either objecting to the sword or the Algonquian or both as offensive. Over 30 municipalities have endorsed a state bill to remove and replace the state’s flag and motto. 

Some critics do not object to the figure but the arm of Standish. Hartman Deetz, a member of the Wampanoag tribe, told WGBH that Standish “represents the death of native people. He represents the threat of the sword, the threat of arms to enforce the will and the place of colonists here to be able to take from us our land and our home.”

What I fail to see is why such history cannot be made part of the understanding of the origins of the Commonwealth. It is all part of the storied history of Massachusetts as a Native American region, a colony, and a state. Much of that history has painful elements but it is part of a shared history. I love visiting Massachusetts for its history, good and bad. It is a place so heavily embed with history that simply walking its streets is a history lesson. Keeping that history is not celebrating every aspect or event. It is all a mosaic of a state that not only played a critical role in defining liberty but fighting against its own prejudices and abuses.

The flag is part of the Commonwealth’s story and it is a complicated and wonderful story to tell.

48 thoughts on “Massachusetts Moves To Strike Its Flag As Offensive To Native Americans”

  1. The left wants the ability to blink their eyes so history can start all over.

  2. I betcha the number of Wampanoag who actually object to the image is close to nil. This sort of officious nonsense is the work of the worst sort of person employed in school administration, social work, and the non-profit blob.

  3. As long as lawmakers are able to focus the people’s attention toward being offended by something other than the lawmakers themselves, then we’ll get more of this, not less. What an ungrateful lot.

  4. Wen are my Irish brothers going to finally demand Notre Dame remove that fighting Irishman from their school? Where’s my safe space?

    1. They’ve started by shrouding the murals in the Admin building under the Golden Dome. They depict the saga of Columbus converting savages to Christianity. Which is now deemed “horror” by the faux Catholics

      the Irish-Americans don’t seem to mind their own depiction as drunken and belligerent and truly if you walk around the parking lots before a football game you will indeed see a lot of drunken and belligerent Irish Americans.

      It’s when they sober up that they lose their sense of vigor. And aquiesce to such stupidity as shrouding Columbus

      1. Here is Capo Jenkins’ letter about this. It’s actually an interesting letter about art, if you can look past the trite pc commentary.

        Ten bucks says Jenkins has the Irish blood in him

        I can barely believe this place talks about “Catholic militarism.” Notre Dame has the largest ROTC contingent outside of the academies.

        No “Catholic militarism” no Constantine, no Clovis, no Charles Martel, no Jan Sobieski, and all of us would be speaking ARABIC from cradle to grave, for centuries now. I just want to hear ONE castrati prelate mention that to the people. Just one!

  5. Do not put Pocahontus on any state flag or symbol. Trump pointed her out as an evil being.

  6. Fine, get rid of the Indian and put an Irishman on the Massachusetts flag. The Irish did more for Mass than the Indians ever did!

  7. Not to sound unsympathetic. But I get tired of hearing about offended Indians. They lost, we won. There’s nothing for us to be embarrassed about. We need to stop apologizing for making a great country.

    1. Notre Dame has had ever since the land was acquired from Indians, a continuous side by side worship and employment of local Indians, specifically the Potawatomi. The officials of the local band have not chirped up about the murals. Anybody can let me know here if I am wrong about that.

      This article talks about the relationship between that tribe and the Catholic faith.
      Some were removed on Trail of Tears and some were not. Some were not removed because, they were Catholic. This is an old article from a Catholic encyclopedia that has a lot of more strong and wholesome Catholic content than what dribbles out of the simpering mouths of its representatives the past few decades.

      Far as I could find the recent news about the local bands of Potawatomi in SB area mostly concerned the success of their new casino. Some oppression, this!

      But of course they did find some members of the local band to complain about the murals. Looks like they were all women. And not leadership. But the school newspaper was able to find someone to complain.

      Notre Dame’s problem is not with Indians, it’s mostly with a bunch of pathetic whiny white liberals wringing their wimpy little hands. Trust me if these people were in charge of finding the New World, they never would have retaken Spain from the Moors let alone jumped off any voyages of discovery. these catamites would have had boot shining duty for the Sultan’s troops and not much better.

  8. I personally don’t think this flag is offensive, but that is strictly for the living in Massachusetts to work out, and none of my business. Public symbols are not historical records and do not require celebrating any and everything in our past. If they did, there’d rightly be swastikas on German symbols and the hammer and sickle on Russian.

    1. @anon

      Please stop! I was wondering how long it would take before someone made the inevitable analogy comparing this to National Socialist or Communist symbols. The subject of this post has nothing to do with either.

      Symbols mean something and represent a peoples history and culture. Imperfect, sure, and some of these symbols can be mythical. Removing this symbol is just another example of this dismantling due to the our disunity and balkanization of our culture. We see the same symbols, read the same history and come to an entirely different conclusion as to its meaning and significance.

      If the United States were a couple, we would have gotten divorced by now. (Used to do divorces as a young lawyer and hated it.) I WANT THAT DIVORCE. But it will not be my generation that makes this happen. I am too old, have too much to lose and hope to retire in a few years but my grandkids, that might be a different story.

      We are coming apart as a people and the increased demographical change will only accelerate this. Again this removal is another symbol of this occurrence.

      1. “If the United States were a couple, we would have gotten divorced by now. (Used to do divorces as a young lawyer and hated it.) I WANT THAT DIVORCE.”

        Antonio, I think we have stopped learning how to make things work. All “marriages” have problems but today we have taught our children that everything is replaceable and with that we have lost our history and our desire to make things work.

        1. @allan

          I appreciate what you are saying but for any marriage to work there must be certain commonalities. The US was founded by Europeans from Western Europe and fairly similar cultures. And even that can cause conflict to some Bringing millions from disperate areas of the world with absolutely nothing in common will be a disaster. Not only here but Western Europe is discovering the same thing.

          Diversity plus close proximity equals conflict.

          You can have a certain amount of minorities but you cannot have multiculturalism as practiced by the West. There must be a dominant, unapologetically strong culture which is regarded as the norm.

          And calling me a slur makes the last paragraph no less true or valid.

          Constantly repeating “our diversity is our strength” doesn’t make it so. That’s called wishful thinking.


          1. Antonio, you have confused me a bit. I believe marriages require a commonality even though that commonality might not be obvious. I agree multiculturalism is dangerous and Europe has made a grave mistake as have we but I believe our mistakes are correctable.

            I wasn’t sure where and how this paragraph came into play: “And calling me a slur makes the last paragraph no less true or valid.”

            Diversity is a strength and a weakness so I think we are in agreement.

            1. @allen

              I appreciate your comments. Do not always have to completely agree with someone or accept their goodwill.


    2. Anon:
      “I personally don’t think this flag is offensive, but that is strictly for the living in Massachusetts to work out, and none of my business.”
      Is that like laws regarding abortion in Georgia and Alabama are for the people in Georgia and Alabama to work out free from the unlettered criticism of dolts like Alyssa Milano and Bobby DeNiro? If so, where do I sign?

      1. @mespo727272

        Good observation but sir, don’t you realize that local control is only valid when pursuing leftist, politically correct goals such as sanctuary policies?

        Logical consistency is not something leftists are capable of exercising.


        1. Hey, you guys are the lawyers, not me. You’ve heard of the Constitution?

          1. @anon

            Believe it or not, I booked Con Law a long time ago. Have the award in my office right now.

            What I do not believe in is the concept of a “magic constitution” as if it is to be revered like scripture. It only means what society and courts hold it to mean. Mainstream conservatives are well meaning but hopelessly naive when they say, “we just need to go back to the constitution”.

            As with most things in the culture wars, we don’t even agree on what it means.


            1. agreed.

              Behind all kings and presidents –
              All government and law,
              Are army-corps and cannoneers –
              To hold the world in awe.
              And sword-strong races own the earth,
              And ride the conqueror’s car –
              And liberty has never been won
              Except by deeds of war.

            2. “we just need to go back to the constitution”.

              Antonio, I generally agree with most of what you say and like you all of my family is not American so some of them look at the Constitution in a very different fashion. Here, you confuse me as to your respect for the Constitution. Are you trying to say there was no reason to put into the Constitution an amendment process?

              1. @allan

                I am not saying that at all. I’m only the constitution’s meaning is only reflected through the larger society and who comprises it. Not the content as written.

                The constitution of the “United Mexican States” is similar to the US but the content is Mexican. Different history and demographic. The United States was special because of WHO created it. It was created by the English and consisted of an overwhelmingly European population until the Immigration Act of 1965. The 3d worlders who will be the majority within the next 30 years create and maintain a different kind of society. So when I say it isn’t a “magic constitution” that’s what I mean. Similar to the idea of “magic dirt”. Amazing if you look at the difference between San Diego and Tijuana 40 miles away. San Diego got the “magic dirt” and TJ didn’t, right? Of course not. Different people create different societies. Somehow the Japanese got a successful culture and Haitians did not. Doesn’t work that way. The Japanese have an average IQ of 108 and Haiti has an average IQ of 80, big difference. And 100 years from now leftists will still be wondering why Haiti (or Africa) are still failures.

                Egalitarianism is creationism for leftists.


                1. Antonio, I don’t think I agree with your perspective. The Constitution needs an anchor just like a ship. Tides and society can quickly change and one doesn’t want either to float aimlessly where danger can lurk. That is why the amendment process is not simple, but exists to provide time and thought so that changes made aren’t based on a whim.

      2. No mespo, it’s not like abortion laws which the SC has ruled involve constitutional rights and therefore the involvement of the federal government.

        1. SC has ruled involve constitutional rights

          But they don’t, as any literate person knows. Justice Brennan et al just wanted what they want.

          1. States rights on the issue of abortion is a fall back position for abortion opponents who lost in the SC, as they will mostly agree it s a serious question touching on very basic rights, unlike the state symbol of Massachusetts.

            1. It touches no basic rights, natural or conventional. It’s just something the left wants to have.

              1. OK, absurd does not think abortion touches on any basic rights and is legally similar in consequence to the Massachusetts state symbol.

        2. @anon

          Please Anon, stop with the moral outrage.

          I will take you seriously if you condemn cities and locations who selectively decide what federal laws they will follow regarding sanctuary for illegal aliens. Bet you don’t have a problem with cities who release known MS-13 members who are wanted for crimes in other locations only because they are non-white illegal aliens.


          1. antonio, I have never addressed those issues here, so how you pretend to be quoting me is a mystery, though not a particularly interesting one.

            There are no sanctuary cities in the area I live so, I don’t have an informed opinion on them. As to police working with ICE, the arguments I have heard are the added burden on officers checking status on anyone they interact with and the likelihood of discouraging reporting of crime by those in the immigrant community out of fear of their own arrest and/or deportation.

            As to MS13, my very close connection to the DOS who is an AUSA did a very big RICO case against MS!3 in his city which he won and I am consequently very aware of the viciousness of this gang. Of course I would not want them released for any reason if they are suspects in a crime. It is unfortunate that Trump has tried to use these a.sholes as a weapon against his political opponents. My AUSU friend – not a Trump fan – ignores that BS , keeps his head down, and does his job, just like his good friend FBI agents do.

            1. @anon

              The point I was attempting to make was that leftists tend to be ok with violations of laws they don’t like (ie immigration enforcement) while expressing outrage at places like Alabama for passing pro life laws.

              Of course, you don’t live in an area with sanctuary cities, you probably live either in an upper middle class white or rural area. It is easy to condemn those opposed to illegal immigration when you aren’t affected by it. Your local schools and social services probably aren’t overrun by them so it’s easy for you to pontificate.


              1. There isn’t a sanctuary city in our entire state. I’m not opposed to those concerned with illegal immigration though the president has tried to turn a problem into a crisis and seems to have succeeded. He was offered complete immigration packages in his 1st year – Lindsay Graham was a major player in a bi-partisan effort and he shot it down. Smilarlym in 2013 a bi-partisan bill passed the Republican Senate and Boehner wouldn’t let it come up for a vote in the House under the Hastert Rule, even though it was sure to pass. No one of either major party thinks there isn’t an immigration problem, but the President is incapable of making a deal, or doesn’t want to because it takes away his signature issue.

    3. Both of those were very bold and striking flags with potent symbols. You can denounce whatever you like but as banners of war they will not soon be forgotten. A thousand years from now who will remember the flag of Massachusetts?

  9. Our history is not unlike our system of highways and roadways. Most like the interstate system is generally smooth and free flowing but as we venture off some of the side roads are bumpy and have potholes. But without those less than perfect roadways we would not be able to get where we are going. It is time to acknowledge our less than perfect history but not try to cover it up or eliminate it. Least we forget what got us here and repeat the mistakes.

    1. Well put lorenberg, but not on the symbols meant to unify and represent common aspirations.

  10. Put a Puritan on it! I’m sure that will also raise some hackles.

    1. Puritans would have executed the whiny complainers of political correctness for being witches and had done with it very quickly.

  11. This is further evidence that our cultural red guards will not stop with the purging of Confederate statues and symbols from the public space.

    Wonder when the display of any traditional symbol becomes a “microaggression” and therefore a “hate crime”?

    “All cultures are equal, except Western culture, which is inherently evil”.

    – Your typical SJW

    Remember “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal”.

    George Orwell – Animal Farm

    1. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

      rev 14:20

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