Minnesota unveils its new flag and seal

Last year, the Minnesota legislature initiated the change of the state flag. The final version was selected by a special flag commission on December 19th, 2023, and publicly presented on the first day of the new year.

Given the controversies surrounding Minnesota’s previous banner, including issues with the depiction of a Native American and excessive graphic elements, the new flag is truly something special. The redesign process in the Democrat-run state was also unique, taking only three and a half months.

Over 2,500 drafts were submitted to a flag redesign competition. The final stage included six designs selected by the State Emblems Redesign Commission and finalized by a “local agency with a decade-long experience”. Therefore, the presented version is the result of further fine-tuning.

According to SERC, the dark blue field of the flag represents a “conceptual shape” of the state and features an eight-pointed star. The other part of the banner is colored light blue. This design is based on a draft by Andrew Prekker, a 24-year-old artist from Luverne in southern Minnesota.

By selecting a two-field design, Minnesota takes a clear step towards simplicity. With this design, the star becomes the only separate element on the flag and represents the state’s motto, “L’Étoile du Nord” (“The Star of the North”), which symbolized Minnesota as the northernmost state when it joined the Union in 1858.

Upon its unveiling, the flag received a mixed reaction. Ted Kay, the head of the North American Vexillological Association, described it as “outstanding,” suggesting that the Minnesota banner has the potential to be among the top ten best U.S. state flags. However, the design faced criticism from conservatives who noted its resemblance to flags of former British African colonies like Juboland.

The redesign initiative also brought about a new Great Seal of Minnesota. Instead of featuring a Native American and a farmer, it now centers around a common loon as the state’s faunal symbol. Additionally, it includes symbolic depictions of cornstalks, mountains, and water waves. The final refinement for the seal was the introduction of a new motto: “Mni Sóta Makoce,” meaning “the land where the waters reflect the sky” in the Dakota language.

Both the flag and the seal are scheduled to be officially adopted on May 11th, 2024, as Minnesota celebrates its 166th anniversary.

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