Mount Toby Friends Meeting approved the following statement on July 14, 2019:


Mount Toby Friends Meeting supports current legislative efforts (HD2776 and SD1877) to change the

State Flag and Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The legislation would “establish a special

commission for the purpose of examining the seal and motto of the Commonwealth to determine that

they accurately reflect the historic and contemporary commitments of the Commonwealth to peace,

justice, liberty and equality, and to spreading the opportunities and advantages of education.” In

particular, we support the inclusion of significant numbers of Native people on the commission,

including its chair.


In recent years, the Massachusetts State Flag and Seal has come under increasing criticism as an

official state symbol because to many people it symbolizes white supremacy. A current campaign to

change the flag and seal follows decades of similar bills introduced and allowed to languish in the state

legislature. John Peters Jr., Mashpee Wampanoag and director of the Massachusetts Commission on

Indian Affairs, told legislators in 2017 it is long past time for Massachusetts to “consider our shared

history and be cognizant of the genocidal accuracy of the symbolism that the seal in part portrays.” The

current image, adopted in 1898, depicts a “pacified” Native American man over whom hangs a sword.

The Latin motto scrolled beneath translates: “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under



We are called upon as Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends) to reject the current State Flag and

Seal of Massachusetts. The violence of the imagery and language and the connotation of white

supremacy and subjugation of Native People inherent within this imagery are contrary to the spirit of

the Quaker testimonies of peace and equality. Whatever the intent may have been, this symbol is

experienced as hurtful today by the Native people among us. It is time to affirm our commitments as

Quakers, and as a Commonwealth, to healing, peace, justice, and recognizing the sacred wholeness of

every human being.