The Natick Town Seal Review Committee has scheduled an open house at the Morse Institute Library on Feb 5 (1:30-3:30pm) to share 3 town seal designs being considered and to give the public a chance to give feedback to the designer and committee members. You can also weigh in online.
The Natick committee was created following 2020 Fall Town Meeting approval, and charged with “reviewing the history of town seals in Natick [and] proposing a new town seal after a public process.” The town’s current seal includes an image designed in 1951 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Natick’s founding as a Christian mission for Indigenous people. The image was adopted for the town’s seal in 1980, but has since been questioned for depicting an inaccurate understanding of Natick’s early history.
Town Meeting in the fall of 2021 via Article 36 got an update on the committee’s work and approved the appropriation of $11K to be used for design services related to a new seal.
This past fall the committee hired designer Sebastian Ellington Flying Eagle Ebarb, a Northeastern University associate teaching professor who previously served as the City of Boston’s design director for nearly 7 years. Ebarb’s Northeastern bio includes that “As a member of the Choctaw-Apache tribe of Ebarb, he has spent his years working to revive, hold and revere his native heritage.”
The committee last spring released a survey seeking to get public input on creating a new town seal that more accurately reflects the community. About 750 people filled out the survey, and results were released this past fall in a report.
Among its findings: “Briefly, many comments we received addressed the depiction of Native Americans on Natick’s current seal. Respondents highlighted their concerns about racist and offensive imagery and urged the committee to work with Indigenous
community members on any future depiction of Native individuals or symbols. Respondents also expressed concerns that
removing the current image would contribute further to erasure of both the history of the Christian mission founded in
Natick in 1651, and the much longer (and ongoing) Native American habitation of this area.”
Only 4% of respondents urged the committee to keep the current seal intact.
The committee and designer incorporated public feedback as well as additional research into the designs now under consideration.
The 3 designs each have their own emphasis (water and hills, leaves, a bridge, each with nods to history), though are open to interpretation. They are subject to minor changes based on feedback. And nope, the South Natick dam didn’t quite make it into the imagery.
The Town Seal Review Committee soon seeks to settle on 1 design to bring to Town Meeting this spring for approval.
Natick’s seal is used for official documents, but also serves as a town logo found on signs, uniforms, and more.
The designs are initially being presented in black and white so as to focus on the design itself. Expect colors to come later.