Change to state flag gaining support as Falmouth votes yes
Falmouth has become the 58th community in Massachusetts — and the ninth on Cape Cod — to support changing the state flag and seal to remove what advocates say are symbols of colonial violence.
No new design has yet been created, but the votes endorse the work of a state commission charged with recommending changes to the state seal and flag.
In Falmouth, a Town Meeting article passed by just four votes, the Falmouth Enterprise reported.
But momentum is building, according to David Detmold, a Montague resident and coordinator of the campaign website. Nearly two dozen additional communities are voting soon.
“Indigenous leaders have been calling this a symbol of past violence and have been objecting to it for 50 years,” he said.
The seal and flag show an arm in colonial dress holding a sword above the head of an Indigenous person.
Members of the special commission include several Native leaders. Among them are leaders from the Cape and Islands: Brian Weeden, chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe; and Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
Weeden serves as co-chair of the commission.
“It's the first time in almost 400 years that native leaders of the Commonwealth have been consulted with,” Detmold said. “So we're very interested to hear what the consensus will be.”
He said the commission has until Nov. 15 to recommend a new design.
“My understanding is the special commission intends to conduct public polling, and also perhaps do listening sessions at various places around the Commonwealth, to ask the public directly what they would like to see,” he said.
Measures to support changing the flag and seal have failed in two communities statewide, including Harwich in 2019.
The rest of the Outer and Lower Cape voted to support the special commission. Several Cape Cod towns have not put the issue to a vote.
Detmold said he hopes to bring the issue back to Harwich, possibly next year.