5.0 – INTERNATIONAL (non-U.S.A.)

 

• The sworded arm is really menacing: it seems ready to strike, or at least it gives the impression that it wouldn't hesitate to strike. It is all the more shocking since the Indian has a peaceful stance: his bow is on the ground while the arrow points downward, in sign of peace. From his person emerges a sense of calm, of benevolent greeting: the Indian looks straight at us, serenely. He is not on the defensive. The discrepancy in the two attitudes, one war-like and aggressive, the other nonviolent and tranquil, creates a real malaise. And this feeling of malaise is reinforced by the fact that the ‘avenging arm', placed above the Indian's head, not only weighs on him like a danger (a danger he seems to ignore) but also places him in a position of inferiority ...The sworded arm attracts attention first and one can't help a feeling of danger for the Indian situated under this ‘avenging arm'. The motto "By the Sword We Seek Peace ..." is most out-of-place when one knows the later fate reserved for the Algonquins who greeted the Pilgrims ... To speak of peace with such a threatening arm, placed like a ‘sword of Damocles’ above the peaceful Indian, seems the height of hypocrisy and cynicism. As to 'liberty': Liberty for the white man ... at the price of what tragedies for the Indians? A strange way to thank a people who received you with open arms and kept you from starving to death. (Mme Sophie Rault, Brittany, France)
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• The shield of Massachusetts goes back to the 17th century. As European, I know that at that time one placed on coats-of-arms the symbols of conquests made by war ... or marriage. From this viewpoint, the shield of Massachusetts is unexceptional: The Indians, whether one likes it or not, were conquered. I read somewhere that the Algonquian Indian, with bow poised on the ground and arrow pointing downward, is a symbol of reconciliation. Certainly, but the sworded arm hanging from the crest clearly illustrates the type of reconciliation involved. And as if that weren't enough, the Latin motto better explains how things stand: It signifies, "With the sword seek peace in freedom." Not unusual! And also perfectly in tune with current affairs! Hence one can say anything about the flag of Massachusetts, except that it is hypocritical. (Dr. Roberto Breschi, Lucca, Italy)
 
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• It's an outdated "white man's" image - it cannot represent anything in 2003 [when the survey was conducted]. Liberty for whom? How many Indians are there in Massachusetts?(Jarig Bakker, The Netherlands) 
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• Damn the Puritan Yankees who genocided the American Natives who had welcomed them and saved them from famine, and still eat turkey at "Thanksgiving" ... Hypocrites as usual. (Dr. Philippe Rault, Brittany)
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• Gives me the feeling that the sword will kill the Indian. Bush-American way of life: the sword don't bring peace to us. It brings more war. (Luiz from Brazil) ...............................

• A flag is absolutely outside the culture of Native Americans! Especially the sword! If you really want to show a flag, why not using native American traditional symbols and put them inside a white or yellow rectangle? (Oliver from France)
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• It seems that the arm with the sword is about to attack the unaware Native American. Well, since this last is also armed, the arm's owner may have his reasons to attack him, but I don't like so much violence. My main reason to feel uncomfortable with this design is because of its lack of originality and its dull appearance. But I do understand that Native Americans can feel offended by this image of violence against their people. (José Manuel Erbez, Spain)
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• As a vexillologist [flag scholar], I find the symbolism makes me ‘somewhat uncomfortable’. I am much more comfortable with the flag of New Mexico. I think I am uncomfortable with the representation of human figures in general on symbols. Perhaps because choices must be made (male/female, ethnic group, age, etc.) that will invariably end up representing one segment of the population at the expense of others. This, in conjunction with my knowledge (prejudices?) of the history of relations between European settlers and Native Americans in North America, leaves me with a (perhaps irrational) sense that ‘something is wrong’. The addition of the motto makes me ‘uncomfortable’. Though the intent might have been different, I can’t help think that peace was for the settlers to the detriment of the Native inhabitants. In my mind, the symbolism of a state flag should strive to unify its citizens, and this flag is at least ambiguous in the message it is sending. (Luc Baronian, Canada)
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• Although the Indian bears weapons, he looks friendly, while the sword seems to threaten the Indian. Maybe I go too far, but I am afraid the scenery could be interpreted as a statement regarding the relationship between Indians and non-Indians. No doubt, a very uncomfortable message. This image [showing full arms] is much more comfortable because the star and the Latin motto turn attention away from the combination of the sword and the Indian. Because of its brightness, the star acts as an eye-catcher. It separates the sword from the man and thereby seems to protect the Indian. Moreover, the Latin motto symbolizes ancient culture, which could hardly be combined with a violent message. Had I seen this image first, I would not have had the impression that the Indian could be in danger. (Jacobs Rainer, Germany)
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• Probably a revered symbol, but it looks as if the Indian were about to be beheaded. There is no real peace without the means to enforce it. I like it. (Ricardo Monteiro, Portugal) 
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• The figure, though armed, is not in a hostile attitude. The arm and sword can only be seen as aggressive. The star is neutral. The design, taken with the motto, implies that the “Liberty” is somehow threatened by the Native American. Hence the arm becomes even more aggressive, as if to say that the liberty can only be achieved at the expense of the figure. (Michael Faul, flag expert, U.K.) 
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• It's a mix of European and Native American symbolism. Both look quite warring. Ironic. They seek peace through the use of war, eh? How does that work? (Canada?)
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• The sword is held in a threatening manner, ready to strike down. The obvious target seems to be the person on the shield. Given the clothing and the type of sword the arm seems to be European. Since it is depicted above the shield it implies superiority. Historically speaking this may be correct (at least in the area of weaponry) but in this era of political correctness it's possible not the best message to convey. Personally I find the idea of depicting a Native American on a shield of arms rather silly as it's completely outside their tradition. Of course, it is also outside the American tradition per se, but I suppose the European descent adds some sense to it. The idea of seeking peace through violence is a contradiction in terms (and an idiocy, in my opinion). In combination with the shield, it very much gives the idea of white oppression over the Native population. Note that I'm not American but European and know nothing of the history of Massachusetts. (Gil Zweers, U.K.)
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• Very belligerent. [full arms] Stretching it: co-opting. (Kaihsu Tai, Oxford, U.K.)
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• Good heraldic colours: Or (gold) and Azure(blue). Native American is shown in positive way, but may be this may not be the way Native Americans see it. The sword in crest with the motto give a bit of a "cultural imperialism" feel. (U.K.)
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• The sword on the top of this peaceful Native American show how they have been treated: “A good Indian is a dead Indian". About the Indian himself, I just think he is not giving any message, unless it is, "Hey, I'm here!". I find the flag too general it could represent any Native Nation – or none. Take out the feathers, and he wouldn’t even look so Native, he could be a Celtic warrior too ... The meaning [of the motto], for me at least, is that the Native was responsible for the war, which of course is a false view of the situation, seen from Europe in the 21st century! Writings on flags is rarely a good vexillological way, but is typical of U.S. State flag designs (to my desperation!), and hope that if they change the flag and do away with the writing. I'm Jurassian (officially Swiss but don't feel like it!) (officially Switzerland)
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• I don't feel uncomfortable but the symbol of the saber ready to strike is symbolic of violence and blood shed. The Native American standing at ease does not make me feel uncomfortable at all, he seems at peace. I feel the overall message of this flag is: Peaceful man is destroyed by sword/technology-wielding individuals. [upon seeing full arms] Well, now my original interpretation has come to fruition. The Latin statement is obviously directed at making the Native blood shed acceptable by placing it under the label of peace. Sounds a little like the excuses for the current Iraq war. The star is very symbolic here as well, it demonstrates a strong American presence in the flag. Overall it shows the Native American being conquered and the star is like an imposing sentinel keeping order after slaughter. Although this flag is probably defended as paying tribute to the Native Americans, in reality it demonstrates a conquered people with a cute Latin excuse that the massacres were done in the name of peace. (Clay in Canada)
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• Bonjour Peter... I'm a poet and French ... so, in France we say that America built its history on Indian blood. Many years ago I lived in the USA and I saw how Indian People lived ... and now the US and Israel make the same with the Palestinian People... it's a shame. (Adriana in France)
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• I do not believe the figure demonstrates any immediately apparent symbolism, beyond a stereotypical martial depiction of a Native American. The arm raised with saber above implies, in my thinking at least, domination of the lower figure - reminiscent, in fact, of conquest. The colours mean nothing to me. [the motto] It's a typical imperialist statement: "We seek peace by killing you; only at our whim will there be peace, and it will be a peace you will not survive." (U.K.)
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• Its too Eurocentric ... to start with, what is Amerindian about the shield and crest? Nothing. Plus, who is the person supposed to represent? Why not let your Indian population give more input. I'd like to add that the motto is addressed to whom? ... probably by the settler population to those who opposed their expansion plans... i.e., the Indians, therefore not really appropriate. (Canada)
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• I'm indifferent to the image of the Native Indian, but the sword above is a bit violent for a flag, I think. Is it meant to be European imperialists, or Native Indians holding that sword? OK, swords, violence and George W. Bush tick me off – that’s like something he'd say: By the sword we seek peace. (Australia)
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• The symbolism is far too oriented to the past and to weaponry, even suggesting that the warrior is about to be sabered from above. The image has no dynamism. The colours are dull. I am certainly no expert on American First Nations but presume that the costume and ornamentation is very suggestive of a particular region, tribe or federation. The symbolism needs to be inclusive of all Native Americans, regardless of tribe, gender or age. Please have a look at the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags. [full arms] Worse than the one above. Why on earth use Latin? And reinforcing the suggestion that violence will further human liberty. This is vile. And why hark back to a two hundred year old iconography of colonialism that has appropriated imagery of the subjugated? (Australia)
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• It looks as if the cutlass – obviously a European weapon held by what seems to be an arm wearing a Renaissance ruff-cuff sleeve – is about to decapitate the Amerindian. It's too much of a New-Agey, noble-savage-as-victim message. The motto is typical USA-nian swaggering – the world is tired of it. (Canada?)
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Positive or neutral Comments: 1 .... negative comments: 22 

 

6.0 – ... and now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

• It's ugly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LIKE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am a Native American ... Tribe of the plumbers
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• it is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is gayit is
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• The arm is creepy. The rest??? ZZZZZzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZ ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZ zzzzzzzzzZZZZZZ
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• Fighting for Peace is like screwing for Virginity.

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