Flag of Minnesota

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

UseCivil and state flag Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagSmall vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagReverse side is mirror image of obverse side
AdoptedAugust 2, 1983 (1983-08-02)
DesignA modified version of the state seal of Minnesota centered on a medium blue field.
Designed byAmelia Hyde Center
Selected on December 19, 2023, to become the new official state flag starting May 11, 2024.
UseIncoming redesign Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
AdoptedTo be adopted by May 11, 2024; 25 days' time (2024-05-11)
Designed byAndrew Prekker (base design)
Minnesota State Emblems Redesign Commission (final design)[1]

The flag of Minnesota is the state flag of the U.S. state of Minnesota. Its design features a modified version of the seal of Minnesota emblazoned on a blue field.[2] The flag's first version was adopted in 1893, in advance of the state's mounting an exhibition at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. It was significantly revised in 1957 and received a minor update in 1983.[3]

The flag has come under growing criticism. Longstanding frustration with its illegibility[4] has been joined by concerns that the image depicted in the seal offers a negationist view of Minnesota's settlement by Europeans that conceals the violence committed against Indigenous peoples.[5][6] In 2023, the Minnesota Legislature created a commission to redesign the flag and seal of Minnesota.[7] On December 19, 2023, the commission selected a design that will replace the current flag effective May 11, 2024, unless the legislature chooses to take further action.

Design and use[edit]

Section 1.141 of the state statutes prescribes the design and use of Minnesota's flag.[2]

The flag is rectangular and features a design emblazoned in the center of a field of medium blue. According to statute, the flag is bordered with gold and finished with gold fringe,[2] but this is rarely used.[citation needed]

The central design features three concentric circular fields. The innermost field is filled with a simplified version of the state seal. Around the seal is a ring of blue ornamented with a wreath of pink-and-white lady's-slipper and a red ribbon upon which are written the years 1819 and 1893. At the top of the blue ring the year 1858 is set in gold. Around the blue ring is a white ring upon which 19 stars form five radially arrayed groups. Each group contains four stars except for the top-center group, which has two stars of standard size and one larger than the rest. Between the bottom two groups, the state's name is set in red. Both the blue ring and the white ring are bordered with gold.

Design and symbolism of the seal[edit]

A Native American rides on horseback in the background, symbolizing Minnesota's Native American heritage, while a pioneer uses a plow in the foreground. There is a sunset on the western horizon. The straight horizon line reflects the plains covering much of Minnesota. The Native American is riding southward. The native's horse and spear and the pioneer's ax, rifle, and plow represent tools of daily life. The only interaction between the figures is one observing the other. The tools used by the Native American and the farmer represent the tools used for labor and hunting, while the stump symbolizes the taming of the land and the importance of the lumber industry to Minnesota in 1858. The Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls are depicted in the revised seal to note the importance of these resources in transportation, industry, and the settling of the state. The furrowing of the ground by the plow represents the submission of the land to the pioneer. The plow also symbolizes agriculture's importance to Minnesota and its future. The waterfalls are not on the original state seal. Beyond the falls on the seal are three pine trees representing the state tree (the Norway pine) and the three pine regions of the state: the St. Croix, Mississippi, and Lake Superior.[8][9]

Symbolism of other elements[edit]

The Minnesotan flag flying underneath the American flag.

Each of the three years cited was notable in Minnesota history. Fort Snelling was founded in 1819, Minnesota gained statehood in 1858, and its first flag was adopted in 1893.[2]

The pink-and-white lady's slipper is the state flower.

The 19 stars symbolize the fact that Minnesota was the 19th state to enter the Union after the original 13.[10] The larger star at the top symbolizes the North Star.

Display and use[edit]

The flag is to be flown over the Minnesota State Capitol from sunrise to sunset.

When the flag is folded for storage, it should be folded in the same way as the national flag.[2] When folding the flag for presentation or display, it must be folded lengthwise four times, then each side must be folded down so that the banner containing L'Étoile du Nord is displayed on a triangle. The ends below the triangle must be folded in a complex way to form a triangle that is then tucked into the upper triangle so that the state motto is prominently displayed on the front. Instructions for folding in this manner, developed by members of the Minnesota National Guard, are reported to be detailed to the point of confusion by some.[11]


Mutilating, defiling, or casting contempt upon the flag, attaching any design to the flag, or using the flag for advertising are misdemeanor offenses under State Statute 609.40, excepting flags on written or printed documents.[2] However, following the 1990 Supreme Court ruling United States v. Eichman, enforcement of this law has been deemed unconstitutional.[12]


1893 flag[edit]

Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagFlag of Minnesota, 1893–1957 (obverse)

In 1891, the Minnesota legislature voted to sponsor an exhibition at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and in response then governor William Rush Merriam appointed a board to supervise the preparations. The board comprised only men, but preparations specific to the showcasing of "women's work" were passed off to an all-women group of volunteers known as the Women's Auxiliary Board. Minnesota had no official flag at that time, and the Auxiliary Board formed a six-person committee to design a flag. The committee held a contest to design the flag, and 200 entries were submitted. In February 1893, Amelia Hyde Center was announced the winner and received $15 for her winning design.[13] The Board then successfully petitioned the legislature to officially adopt the design as the state flag.

Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagFlag of Minnesota, 1893–1957 (reverse)

Center's design was white on one side and bright blue on the other. In the center of the white obverse was the state seal wreathed in white moccasin flowers overlaying a ring of blue. A red ribbon across the seal bore a motto, L'Étoile du Nord (French for "The Star of the North"). The years 1819 (establishment of Fort Snelling), 1858 (statehood), and 1893 (adoption of the flag) appeared in gold around the seal. "Minnesota" was written in gold under the seal, and 19 gold stars, representing the fact that Minnesota was the 19th state to be admitted after the original 13 states,[14] were arranged in clusters to form the five points of a star. Historians have noted the design was likely influenced by various flags used by Minnesota's infantry regiments during the Civil War, many of which consisted of a blue field emblazoned with either an American eagle or the state seal with a scroll.[13]

The first flag was made of silk and was embroidered by Pauline and Thomane Fjelde, who won a gold medal for their creation. The flag was adopted on April 4, 1893.[3]

While the reverse of the official design was a solid blue field,[15] some examples of the flag, particularly those mass produced in the twentieth century, featured the seal design on that side as well.[citation needed]

1957 flag[edit]

Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag Flag of Minnesota, 1957–1983

The flag was redesigned in 1957 in advance of the 1958 state centennial. Most significantly, the field of both the obverse (formerly white) and the reverse (formerly bright blue) were made royal blue; the unification allowed flags to be produced from a single piece of cloth, reducing manufacturing costs and making the flag more durable in high winds.[3][14] Separately, the white lady's-slippers depicted in the original were replaced with the pink-and-white lady's-slipper native to Minnesota.[16]

1983 revision[edit]

In 1983 the seal was redrawn, and the color field was lightened from a royal blue to a medium blue.[3]

Criticism and calls for redesign[edit]

A red, white, and blue tricolor in which the central white field is emblazoned with a star composed of 19 smaller gold stars
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag A design eschewing the state seal was considered in 1957.[17]

The Minnesota flag has been widely criticized for decades. Vexillologists have called its design unmemorable, indistinguishable from afar, and similar to many other state flags.[18] In 2001, it was chosen as one of the ten worst flag designs in an online poll by the North American Vexillological Association, receiving a score of 3.13 out of 10.[4][19] The same year, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune held an unofficial contest to design a new state flag.[20][better source needed]

The symbolism of the flag's seal has been criticized for offering a racist, negationist view of Minnesota's settlement by Europeans.[5][6] Critics have said the seal, depicting a Native American man riding away from land being cultivated by a white man, represents the displacement of the indigenous people of Minnesota.[21][22] Tribal nations, including the Upper Sioux Community, do not display the flag.[23]

On numerous occasions over several decades, bills have been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature to establish a legislative task force to study changes to the flag.[24] In 1968, the Minnesota Board of Human Rights urged the state to change the seal.[5]

North Star Flag[edit]

The North Star Flag features of blue over a field of green separated by an undulating white band. A yellow five-pointed star in emblazoned in upper left.
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag The "North Star Flag", which won an unofficial contest in 2001, was originally proposed in 1989.

The North Star Flag design was created in 1989 by Lee Herold and Reverend William Becker.[18] The flag has the colors of green, representing forests, white, representing winter, and blue, representing water. A yellow star in the top left represents the North Star and the state's motto, L'Étoile du Nord. Herold presented the proposal to state legislators in 1989, supported by Republican representative Gil Gutknecht.[25] Herold opposed the official state flag since its creation when he was in high school.[26] In 1995, he left his career as an accountant and opened a flag store, Herold Flags, in Rochester, Minnesota.

2023 redesign commission[edit]

On March 22, 2022, two Democratic members of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Mike Freiberg and Peter Fischer, introduced a bill to redesign the state's flag and seal. Fischer began supporting a flag redesign in 2017 after a group of high school students raised the issue to him.[18][25] The law outlines specific guidelines for the redesign, stipulating that the new designs "must accurately and respectfully reflect Minnesota's shared history, resources, and diverse cultural communities" and that symbols representing only a single community or person are prohibited.[18] It was proposed as part of a state budget bill and was opposed by Republican representatives, who viewed it as a low priority.[27][28]

In May 2023, as a part of the annual state budget, the Minnesota Legislature established the State Emblems Redesign Commission, tasked with proposing new designs for Minnesota's flag and seal.[29] The legislation dictates that, barring any contrary legislation, the chosen flag design will be adopted as the state flag on May 11, 2024.[30] The committee has 13 members, including representatives of the Indian Affairs Council, the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage, the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs, and the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, along with three members of the general public appointed by Governor Tim Walz.[31] The committee held its first meeting on September 5.[32]

In October, the committee received public input to suggest flag designs. A total of 2,123 flag and 398 seal submissions were received.[33] Common themes included the state bird (the loon), lakes and rivers, and the North Star.[34] More diverse entries included a photograph of a dog, a photograph of a wooden floor, national flags and imitations of them such as those of the Soviet Union, psychedelic monkey drawings, and a design depicting a loon shooting lasers from its eyes similar to the Laser Kiwi flag proposed during the 2015–2016 New Zealand flag referendums.[35][36]

On November 21, 2023, the commission met in the Minnesota Senate Building to review the selections.[37] Despite having planned to select five flag designs, the group chose six finalists.[38] All the finalists featured a star and blue and white; none featured the loon, which the committee believed represented only part of Minnesota.[39] Herold attended the hearing, but his North Star Flag design was not a finalist.[40] On December 13, the number of flags was narrowed to three, F2100, F944, and F1953.[41]

On December 15, the committee decided that the final flag would be a variant of F1953, eliminating F2100 and F944.[42] The commission finalized the design on December 19 by removing the stripes and altering the star's shape, making the final design an all light-blue banner with a simplified shape of Minnesota on the hoist in dark blue and a simplified eight-pointed star in the center of the shape.[43][44][45]

2024 flag[edit]

Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag Flag chosen by the State Emblems Redesign Commission on December 19, to be adopted on May 11, 2024

Ted Kaye of the North American Vexillological Association called the new design "outstanding" and said that it has a place in the top 10 flags of the U.S.[54] A criticism of the design is its alleged similarity to flags from Somalia; this criticism was rebuffed by the commission overseeing the flag redesign.[55] Another criticism of the final design is that it is "plain".[56] Several rural counties, including Crow Wing, Houston, McLeod, Nobles, Becker, Mower, and Brown, passed resolutions opposing the flag in general, or the process by which the new flag design was chosen.[57][58][59][60] In early March 2024, Republican state legislators announced plans to introduce a series of bills that would put the flag design to a public vote.[61]

Unless the legislature decides to take further action, the new flag is set to begin flying on May 11, 2024.[62]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SERC - Next Minnesota State Flag". www3.mnhs.org. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "1.141 Official State Flag". Office of the Revisor of Statutes. State of Minnesota. 2006. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d MN Territorial Pioneers, Inc. "Flag of the State of Minnesota". Archived from the original on October 25, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Kaye, Ted. "2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey". North American Vexillological Association. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Harrington, Judith (July 2, 2015). "As long as we're discussing flags, what about Minnesota's?". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on January 7, 2023.
  6. ^ a b Grindy, Mark (July 3, 2020). "Racist state flags need to go — Minnesota's is next". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on December 10, 2022.
  7. ^ "HF1830". Office of the Revisor of Statutes. 2023.
  8. ^ "Minnesota Statutes – 1.135 State Seal". Office of the Revisor of Statutes. 1983. Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "About the Minnesota Flag, its adoption and history". Netstate. Archived from the original on August 11, 2017. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
  10. ^ "State Flag". Minnesota Secretary of State. Retrieved March 19, 2023.
  11. ^ Brunswick, Mark (May 4, 2010). "Let 'L'Etoile' shine when folding the flag". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on August 11, 2017. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
  12. ^ "States' flag-burning laws unconstitutional, but persist". August 2016.
  13. ^ a b Becker, William. "The Origin of the Minnesota State Flag" (PDF). Minnesota State Legislature. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "State Symbols" (PDF). Minnesota House of Representatives.
  15. ^ "The State's Banner". St. Paul Daily Globe. March 31, 1893.
  16. ^ "The State Flag of Minnesota". Minnesota State Mankato. Archived from the original on October 6, 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  17. ^ "Proposal for a new Minnesota state flag (1957)". Retrieved May 27, 2023.
  18. ^ a b c d Derosier, Alex (March 25, 2022). "Minnesota's state flag doesn't get much love. Why it vexes experts who want it changed". Duluth News Tribune. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  19. ^ Boller, Jay. "Petition seeks to change Minnesota's 'shameful' state flag, offers 9 alternatives". City Pages. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved July 24, 2017. [dead link]
  20. ^ Bearbower, Sarah. "The North Star Flag: A Proposal for a New Minnesota State Flag". mnflag.tripod.com. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  21. ^ Brasch, Ben; Salcedo, Andrea (October 4, 2023). "Some Minnesotans see dark history in their flag. A redesign may fix that". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  22. ^ Karnowski, Steve (September 5, 2023). "Minnesota seeks unifying symbol to replace state flag considered offensive to Native Americans". Associated Press. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  23. ^ Callaghan, Peter (June 8, 2023). "Formal effort begins to replace 'cluttered genocidal mess' on Minnesota state flag and seal". MinnPost. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  24. ^ "SF3201". 2001. "HF3974". 2006. "HF1385". 2007. "HF505". 2019. "HF284". Office of the Revisor of Statutes. 2021.
  25. ^ a b Croman, John (March 23, 2022). "Minnesota lawmakers ponder changing flag and seal". KARE 11. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  26. ^ Huppert, Boyd (June 26, 2023). "Minnesota to get a new state flag. Meet the man who spent decades trying to change it". KARE 11. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  27. ^ "New State Flag? Proposal At Minnesota Capitol Would Move To Change It – CBS Minnesota". CBS News. April 13, 2022. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  28. ^ Brooks, Jennifer (April 23, 2022). "Oh say can you see a better flag for Minnesota". Star Tribune. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  29. ^ "HF1830". Office of the Revisor of Statutes. 2023.
  30. ^ "HF 1830 4th Engrossment". MN Revisor's Office. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  31. ^ Cummings, Caroline (June 27, 2023). "Group will put forward a new design for Minnesota state seal, flag by next year". CBS News. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  32. ^ Fitzgerald, Kilat; Henry, Ben (September 5, 2023). "Commission on redesigning Minnesota's flag holds first meeting". KSTP-TV. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  33. ^ Swanson, Steve; James, Derek (November 8, 2023). "Whole lotta loons: 2,000-plus submissions unveiled for new Minnesota state flag, seal". CBS News. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  34. ^ Willingham, AJ (November 14, 2023). "Minnesota has gotten more than 2,500 design submissions for its new state flag. There are a lot of loons". CNN. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  35. ^ Brooks, Jennifer (November 9, 2023). "Land of 10,000 flags (and loons with laser eyes)". Star Tribune. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  36. ^ Hoff, Jennifer (November 8, 2023). "For better or worse, thousands of new Minnesota flag designs are publicly released". KARE 11. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  37. ^ Derosier, Alex (November 21, 2023). "Panel picks 6 finalists for redesigned MN state flag — and none have loons". Pioneer Press. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  38. ^ Hoff, Jennifer (November 21, 2023). "Here are the six finalists for a new Minnesota flag". KARE 11. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  39. ^ Bierschbach, Briana (November 21, 2023). "Here are the six finalists for a new Minnesota state flag and five for a new state seal". Star Tribune. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  40. ^ Stolle, Matthew (November 22, 2023). "Six finalists are picked to be the new state flag; North Star flag was not one of them". Post-Bulletin. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  41. ^ Gorham, Quinn (December 13, 2023). "A closer look at each of Minnesota's three flag finalists". KTTC News. Retrieved December 15, 2023.
  42. ^ "New Minnesota state flag selected". FOX 9. December 15, 2023. Retrieved December 15, 2023.
  43. ^ "This is Minnesota's new flag". FOX 9. December 19, 2023. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  44. ^ Cummings, Caroline; Bettin, Anthony (December 19, 2023). "Minnesota's new state flag design is finalized - CBS Minnesota". CBS News. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  45. ^ Ferguson, Dana (December 19, 2023). "Let it fly: Minnesota officially has a new flag". Minnesota Public Radio. What I've struggled with is the stripes, the stars and stripes, it feels predictable, it doesn't necessarily feel different," said commission member Kate Beane about the original concept as she advocated for the simpler design. "I understand the nod to agriculture. I think having the outline of the state is a nod to the land base and is a nod to agriculture.
  46. ^ Dana Ferguson (November 28, 2023). "Minnesota North Star motto inspired Luverne designer's Minnesota flag entry that is now among 6 finalists". MPR News. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  47. ^ Dana Ferguson (December 4, 2023). "Flag designer living in Lone Star state hopes to win over North Star state panel". MPR News. Retrieved December 13, 2023.
  48. ^ Todd Pitman and Peter Pitman. "Mirror of the Sky – A new flag for Minnesota". Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  49. ^ a b c Cathy Wurzer; Brian Bakst; Alanna Elder; Estelle Timar-Wilcox (November 22, 2023). "Meet 3 people whose designs are finalists for the new Minnesota flag". MPR News. Retrieved November 26, 2023.
  50. ^ Wittnebel, Aaron; Olson, Bjorn; Drazkowski, Steve (December 29, 2023). "Minority Report" (PDF). Minnesota State Emblems Redesign Commission. p. 10. Retrieved January 3, 2024.
  51. ^ Hundot, Brandon (October 26, 2015). "The latest design for a new Minnesota flag is inspired by l'etoile du nord". Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  52. ^ Dana Ferguson (November 30, 2023). "Designer's state seal entry could be last hope for loon-loving Minnesotans". MPR News. Retrieved December 13, 2023.
  53. ^ Emma Needham (November 22, 2023). "A Flag That Unites Us – MN Redesigns State Flag". Minnesota Native News. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  54. ^ "Flag expert calls new Minnesota state flag 'outstanding,' top ten in the country". MPR News. December 19, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  55. ^ Del Rey, Michelle (December 20, 2023). "Minnesota replaced its 'racist' flag. The new one is facing its own outrage". The Independent. United Kingdom. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
    "This is Minnesota's new flag, seal". KMSP. Eden Prairie, MN. December 19, 2023. Retrieved March 7, 2023.
  56. ^ Fergot, Allyson (January 4, 2024). "Minnesotans react to the state's new flag design". WKBT. La Crosse, Wisconsin. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
    Albeck-Ripka, Livia (December 19, 2023). "Minnesota Unveils New State Flag Design". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
    "Why are Minnesota flag, seal getting pushback". Pioneer Press. St. Paul, Minnesota. February 4, 2024. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  57. ^ "Commissioners approve resolution asking that new flag, seal decision be rescinded". Daily Herald. Austin, Minnesota. February 13, 2024. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  58. ^ Smith, Kelly; Bierschbach, Briana (January 27, 2024). "New Minnesota state flag becomes partisan issue in 2024". Star Tribune. Minneapolis. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  59. ^ Bowe, Nathan (February 7, 2024). "Becker County comes out strongly against new state flag". Detroit Lakes Tribune. Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  60. ^ Busch, Fritz (February 28, 2024). "Brown Co. Board OKs resolution opposing state flag redesign process". The Journal. New Ulm, Minnesota. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  61. ^ Jacobsen, Jeremiah (March 5, 2024). "GOP lawmakers seek public vote on new Minnesota state flag". KARE. Minneapolis. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  62. ^ Bierschbach, Briana (December 19, 2023). "'It's going to last': Minnesota panel settles on final state flag design". Star Tribune. Retrieved December 19, 2023.

External links[edit]