Massachusetts officials are asking residents to weigh in on a new state seal and motto.
On Aug. 17, the Massachusetts Seal and Motto commission released a public survey where residents can “have a voice in creating a seal and motto that represents the history and aspirations of Massachusetts.” The survey, made in partnership with UMass Boston, is available online in eight languages and asks participants to consider which Massachusetts flora or fauna they'd prefer on the seal. Some potential options include the shape of the state, cranberries, cod, a Mayflower or turkeys. The deadline is this November.
For decades, the state seal was condemned as racist toward Massachusetts' Native peoples. In 2022, the Massachusetts Seal and Motto commission began working on a redesign of the current state seal, which depicts a Native man standing beneath a detached arm holding a sword, surrounded by the Latin phrase ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem, which translates to, "By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty."
The seal has gone unchanged since its debut in 1898. It currently can be found on Massachusetts' blue-and-gold state flag, state troopers' uniforms and official government documents.
“That seal is everywhere you look in Massachusetts," said Brian Boyles, a member of the commission, in an interview with WBUR earlier this year. “What’s absent is an acknowledgement of a long history of violence and marginalization of Indigenous people."
The commission is intentionally seeking survey responses from Massachusetts Indigenous communities, as well as veterans' groups. It also plans to mail questionnaires about the seal and motto to a random sample of households in Massachusetts, the Boston Herald reports.
Upon gathering survey feedback, the commission aims to finalize its recommendations and deliver the redesign to the Legislature by Nov. 15.