Commission begins work on new Minnesota state flag

A state fee went to work Tuesday on designing a brand new state flag and seal for Minnesota to exchange a present emblem in each that is thought-about offensive to Native People.

One of many primary parts of Minnesota’s state flag features a distinguished state seal in opposition to a blue background. The seal depicts a Native American driving off into the sundown whereas a white settler plows his discipline along with his rifle leaning on a close-by stump. The imagery suggests to many who the Indigenous individuals had been defeated and going away, whereas whites gained and had been staying.

Not solely do the state’s Dakota and Ojibwe tribes think about that offensive, however consultants within the scientific and scholarly research of flags — often called vexillology — say it is an excessively difficult design.


Pointers from the North American Vexillological Affiliation say flags needs to be easy however significant, with just some colours, simply recognizable from a distance, and with out seals or lettering. The affiliation ranks Minnesota in 67th place out of 72 U.S. and Canadian state and provincial flags. Minnesota’s design dates from 1957, an evolution from the 1893 authentic.

Minnesota is becoming a member of a number of different states in redesigning flags that have not withstood the take a look at of time. The Utah Legislature final winter authorized a simplified flag design that also features a beehive, a logo of the prosperity and the industriousness of the Mormon pioneers who settled the state. Mississippi voters in 2020 selected a brand new state flag with a magnolia and the phrase “In God We Belief” to exchange a Accomplice-themed flag that had been utilized by Ku Klux Klan teams and was broadly condemned as racist.

Different states contemplating simplifying their flags embrace Maine, the place voters will resolve subsequent 12 months whether or not to exchange their present banner with a retro model that includes a easy pine tree and blue North Star, in addition to Michigan and Illinois.

Minnesota state flag.

The present iteration of the Minnesota state flag as seen in St. Paul, March 24, 2022. (Mohamed Ibrahim/Report for America through AP, File)

The Democratic-controlled Minnesota Legislature earlier this 12 months tasked its fee — which incorporates representatives of the state’s tribal and different communities of coloration — with producing new designs for the flag and seal by Jan 1. Until the Legislature rejects them, the brand new emblems will routinely grow to be official on April 1, 2024, which Minnesota observes as Statehood Day.

“What I’m wanting ahead to is making a flag that we will all be pleased with, and a flag that everyone can take a look at and say: “Yeah, that’s Minnesota’s flag. That’s a cool flag. That’s very distinctive,” stated the fee’s vice chair, Anita Gall, who teaches state historical past at Minnesota West Group and Technical Faculty in Worthington.

In distinction to flags, state seals, that are used amongst different issues to stamp official paperwork, may be extra intricate, stated Democratic Rep. Mike Freiberg, of Golden Valley, an writer of the laws for the brand new emblems.


Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon, who sits on the panel, famous that one in all his official duties is to function keeper of the state seal. “These are enduring symbols and logos meant to final not simply many years, however a number of centuries,” Simon stated. “And so it’s an enormous accountability.”

Two Republican legislators with nonvoting seats on the panel urged their colleagues to decide on designs that will likely be unifying symbols.

Rep. Bjorn Olson, of Fairmont, stated the change will likely be tough for him, as a pupil of historical past and as a captain within the Military Reserve, as a result of outnumbered troopers from Minnesota staged a essential cost that helped maintain the Union line in opposition to advancing Accomplice forces within the Battle of Gettysburg in the course of the Civil Warfare. The first Minnesota Infantry Regiment suffered heavy casualties whereas carrying a flag that was much like the present design, he stated.


“I do know that there’s many Minnesotans that suppose we’d like a brand new flag and there’s many who don’t,” stated Sen. Steve Drazkowski, of Mazeppa. “Clearly, the choice is made — we’re going to have a brand new flag. And so my objective going ahead … is that we have now a flag that doesn’t characterize one concept or one ideology or one something, however represents all of Minnesota.”

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