Click on the picture to see the full-scale state seal of Massachusetts with Little Shell on it.
As you probably know, the picture of Chief Little Shell graces the official Tribal logo of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.  You can see it on official Tribal letters, on the wall next to the entrance to the Indian Health Service hospital, and elsewhere.  What you may not know is that it also is the basis for the official state seal of Massachusetts.

The head used for the official Massachusetts seal comes from the famous portrait of Little Shell (Es-ence) which was furnished to the designers of the seal by the Bureau of American Ethnology. 

Little Shell's picture was selected to be the model for the seal (to quote the designers) “not only because he [Little Shell] was a fine specimen of an Indian, but also because his tribe, the Ojibwas, belong to the great Algonquin family of which the Massachusetts were also members”.  As he stands on the shield, Little Shell is clothed in a shirt, leggings and moccasins.

The legislature of Massachusetts approved the state seal with Little Shell’s image on June 4, 1885. The Massachusetts Little Shell inspired seal also graces the State Flag.

Kade M. Ferris M.S.
Tribal Historian/THPO

Monique Vondall-Rieke, JD
3/2/2012 06:06:18 am

Does this mean we own part of Massachusetts now? Just joking. Pretty interesting reading. Thanks for providing this Kade. I'd like to write a guest blog or something. I was thinking about maybe writing about the Metis and Ojibwe and the ties to restorative justice historically and how it plays out in contemporary society. Let me know if that works.

3/2/2012 06:09:25 am

That would be very cool. Call me next week at the office.

10/11/2013 11:41:01 am

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Michelle Dauphinais Echols
4/8/2018 10:36:21 am

This is very interesting! The Mass seal is an uncanny likeness!! LOL We have so many wonderful artists in the Tribe, maybe we can offer to spruce it up!


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    Content is provided by Kade M. Ferris M.S.  Kade has a B.A. in anthropology and history from University of North Dakota, and a M.S. degree in anthropology from North Dakota State University.  Kade serves as the Historical Society board Vice President and is a professional historian and anthropologist with over 18 years of experience.  He serves as the THPO and Director of Natural Resources for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and is the Vice President of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Historical Society Board.


    June 2012
    March 2012