A multitude of cheers for the new town seal proposed for the Town of Mashpee and designed by Pierce-Cote Advertising with input from Mashpee residents (see page 1).
The proposed image is visually striking and the visible result of a thoughtful process.
While a town seal is meant primarily to be a government symbol—an official emblem to be shown on flags and public documents—it can also be, as the proposed design shows, an image of how a community views itself and what it values most.
The current town seal was modeled on the state’s own, and although it was created at the beginning of the 20th century, it represents the colonial culture and oppressive iconography of the 17th century. At most, it gives a skewed and extremely narrow view—a bare hint of a view, really—of 400 years of human history.
The proposed seal, with its eagle, sunrise, river and Wampanoag-language welcome, feels both traditional and contemporary as it honors thousands of years of indigenous life on our local lands and waters in connection with a far older system of natural forces and forms. It evokes, in its small way, what writer John McPhee called “deep time” and that scientists call geologic time.
A visitor to Mashpee, on seeing the proposed seal, might not know that the sunrise image ties to the Wampanoag Tribe being the People of the First Light and that the border is made of wampum beads, or what that signifies, but it will be clear that Mashpee is a town that identifies itself with and cares about the beauty and health of its natural resources.
Despite the positive message of the proposed seal, Mashpee still faces tremendous challenges in protecting its environment, especially its degraded water bodies. But we remain cautiously optimistic about the future and entreat all residents to continue to work together toward a hopeful, nature-centered vision of Mashpee. Let us take the long, long view.
We urge Town Meeting voters to approve the new design in the spring.