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Massachusetts Senate Unanimously Approves Bill Reviewing Controversial State Seal, Flag

BOSTON (CBS) — The Massachusetts' Senate has unanimously passed a bill to create a committee to study and redesign the state seal.

A lead sponsor of the bill says passing this puts the state senate on the right side of history.

"This is actually a really huge step," said Jean-Luc Pierite, President of the North American Indian Center of Boston.

Native American tribal leaders and activists have been calling for a change to the state seal for decades. The Senate took a big step toward making that happen Tuesday night.

It's been a long time coming. A version of this legislation was first filed in 1985. As a result of the Black Lives Matter movement and more focus on racial justice, this issue has come to the forefront," State Senator Jason Lewis, a Democrat from Winchester, told WBZ-TV.

The seal features a Native American man and above his head is an arm holding a sword.

"We're talking about imagery that is very evocative of the violence and the intergenerational trauma that our local community has faced. It is well time for us to reconcile with that image," Pierite told WBZ.

The commission revising the seal would be made up of five members who are descendants of tribes with a historical presence in Massachusetts, four members appointed by the governor and the executive directors of several groups, including the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs and the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

"We want Massachusetts to be a welcoming place for all people and that's why it's important that our official emblems reflect that," Lewis said.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

The Senate hopes the commission can come up with recommendations for a new seal by October 2021.

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