Minnesota adopts new non-racist state flag and joins Utah, Mississippi and Michigan in redesigning flags


The state of Minnesota will receive a new official flag this spring that will reflect its motto of being the North Star State, replacing an old flag depicting a Native American that some critics say was racist.

State officials formed a committee and allowed community members in before voting and ultimately adopting a new flag design in December that included two blue shapes with a white star.

The dark blue shape to the left of the flag looks like Minnesota. To the right is a light blue field symbolizing the abundant waters that help define the Land of 10,000 Lakes. It also has a white eight-pointed North Star.

The new flag (and a new state seal) is likely to be approved by the Legislature and will become official on May 11. The change comes as several other states have also been redesigning their flags, including Utah, Mississippi, Michigan, Illinois and Maine.

COMMISSION BEGINS WORK ON NEW MINNESOTA STATE FLAG

A final design of the Minnesota flag is on display Tuesday, December 19, 2023 St. Paul, Minn. The new state flag should feature an eight-pointed North Star on a dark blue background in the shape of the state, with a solid light blue field on the right, a special commission decided Monday as it chose a replacement for an older design. which many Native Americans considered offensive. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP)

Minnesota’s new flag was chosen by a committee that received more than 2,600 submissions from the public. The committee chose a base design by Andrew Prekker, 24, of Luverne.

The commission then made some changes that included replacing its original light blue, white and green stripes with a solid light blue field.

The meaning of the light blue area is open to interpretation. The original Dakota name for Minnesota, Mni Sóta Makoce, which will appear on the new stamp, can be translated as “where the water meets the sky.” Commission Chairman Luis Fitch said the light blue may also represent the Mississippi River, which originates in Minnesota.

Various flag designs.

Minnesota Flag Commission Chairman Luis Fitch fine-tunes some of the final designs as the commission meets today in hopes of choosing a final flag design Tuesday, December 19, 2023 St. Paul, Minnesota. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP)

The new flag received some criticism, with commentators saying it was a boring or useless change. Supporters of the new flag are hoping it will grow among the people.

An indigenous graphic designer is already selling t-shirts online with the new design and saying: “At least the flag is no longer racist.”

The current flag of Minnesota

A Minnesota flag fluttered in the wind and snow before its redesign. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Other states are also considering or have already made changes to the flag.

UTAH GETS NEW OFFICIAL FLAG AFTER GOVERNOR COX SIGNS LAW AND EXECUTIVE ORDER

Last winter, the Utah Legislature approved a design that featured a beehive, a symbol of prosperity.

Mississippi chose a new flag featuring a magnolia to replace a Confederate-themed flag.

Michigan has begun the process of simplifying its flag, which currently features a bald eagle, elk and moose and Latin words, to a tricolor design with stars or a lighthouse.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has also launched an effort to change his state’s flag, a process that will allow a flag commission to select potential flag designs by September 2024.

“Throughout our 205-year history, Illinois has had two official state flags, and perhaps it is time for us to create a new one that exemplifies the values ​​of our great state,” Pritzker said in August 2023.

Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton added: “Our state flag demonstrates who we are as one Illinois, elevating our history and our values. This bill will ensure that the Illinois flag continues to be a symbol of progress and the ideals we uphold with the utmost honor …With the creation of our state’s next flag, we are ushering in a new era that will represent all Illinoisans and commemorate how far we have come so we can go even further together.”

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In Maine, residents want to replace the current flag with a retro version featuring a simple pine tree and a blue North Star. The current design features a pine tree, a moose, a sailor and a lumberjack, on a blue background.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills wants “a robust public debate and discussion on all sides of the issue” before a change is adopted, according to Mills’ spokesman Ben Goodman.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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