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Suit a seal of disapproval for Bay State’s emblem

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Suit a seal of disapproval for Bay State’s emblem

Post  Betep on Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:11 pm

Suit a seal of disapproval for Bay State’s emblem

By Christine McConville
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Cambridge activist who says he’s sick and tired of living in a state whose official seal depicts a sword hanging over a Native American’s head has launched the most aggressive effort to date to force the Bay State to redo the 132-year-old image — but Indians and other advocates are distancing themselves from his audacious $24 million lawsuit.

“It’s unfair to the native peoples,” Daniel DeGuglielmo said about the Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He wants a judge to force the state to stop using the seal on its flags, buildings and papers.

A Suffolk Superior Court judge on Jan. 5 dismissed his request for a temporary restraining order to force the state to remove the seal, and the flag that displays it, after the Attorney General’s Office successfully argued that DeGuglielmo failed to show he’s been significantly harmed by it.

But the judge hasn’t dismissed the lawsuit.

State Rep. Byron Rushing (D-South End) has been pushing since the 1980s for a state commission to review the seal. The state’s Commission on Indian Affairs wants the seal reviewed, too.

“It’s the Indian under the sword that bothers people,” said the commission’s director, John Peters, a Mashpee Wampanoag.

The seal’s critics also point out that the Bay State’s motto — “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty” — is violent, and the Indian whose likeness is on the seal was a Chippewa from the Midwest.

“There’s no relationship to the original people who lived here,” Rushing said.

But Peters stopped short of endorsing DeGuglielmo’s effort, because DeGuglielmo is seeking $24 million in damages.

The money, DeGuglielmo’s lawsuit insists, would atone “for the psychological damage” the flag has perpetrated upon native people.
WTF

DeGuglielmo said he plans to use the money to develop a new arts and history curriculum for schools. He also wants to use it to design a new flag and to give some of the money to the Wampanoag tribe in Mashpee.
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