So many Minnesotans are making an indignant fuss about our new state flag. Some absolutely hate it, calling it a waste of money. It is, they say, lacking in pictorial images of things we identify as being “Minnesotan” – lakes, loons, canoes, pine trees, Lady-Slipper flowers and more.
Well, I too don’t care for the new flag. I saw hundreds of other submitted designs, and there are at least a couple dozen of them I preferred to the “winning” one.
The new flag features a wedge of dark blue on its left side in the center of which is an eight-pointed white star that is supposed to signify the state’s diverse heritage. The dark blue is intended to represent a night sky. The shape of the dark blue area is meant to suggest – abstractly, very abstractly – the shape of the east side of Minnesota. On the right side is a large expanse of unadorned light blue, supposedly symbolizing the state’s many lakes and streams.
I would bet that most people, after seeing that flag, would not detect what is intended by those abstract, symbolic shapes.
The new flag and new state seal (I like the seal very much) were the culmination of a four-month process that included a design contest for the public. More than 2,000 flag designs were submitted. On Dec. 27, the 17-member State Emblems Redesign Commission issued its final report.
The idea for a new flag and seal came about earlier in 2023 when it was decided by the State Legislature that the previous state flag design was a bit too visually crude-and-cluttered and verged on disrespect for Native Americans.
After I wrote a news story about the flag in which I noted many people are dissatisfied with it, I received five emails from readers. Here are their comments:
Email 1: “I think ‘dissatisfaction’ would be an understatement. I have talked with dozens of people and not one likes the flag.”
Email 2: “So why all of a sudden a change in our state flag? The people of Minnesota are angry about this. It’s not a Minnesota state flag. It’s a Moslem flag. Why the hell are you trying to fool Minnesota people?”
Email 3: “I was never a fan of our previous State Seal/Flag. It was very busy, trying to depict too many things at once. And I understand the original version, with the Native American riding out of the picture, would be objectionable to those once referred to as American Indians. But, this flag is too plain. It stands for nothing at all.”
Email 4: “Why don’t you tell the real story about the flag design, that 98 people of Minnesota reject the new design. The original flags are selling out everywhere as Minnesotans scramble to buy them. Only a blind person would not see the flag resembles various Somali flags. Who are these voters and wokesters who have made all of the decisions for us Minnesotans? I and thousands of other Minnesotans will never fly the Somali flag.”
Email 5: One writer, however, does approve of the flag: “I know people are voting not in favor of the new flag,” she wrote. “Where do I vote for the new flag? I think it’s absolutely beautiful and hope it goes through. Definitely stunning.”
The flag design I liked best was a stylized pictorial design within a circle showing a canoe on a lake, reeds, a loon and pine trees in the background. It was wonderful. Another design I loved (though I laughingly realized why it didn’t win) was of the “state bird” – a huge hungry-looking mosquito.
All this brouhaha about the new state flag is not at all surprising; it’s yet another example of “You just can’t please ‘em all!”
I don’t care for the new flag, but I certainly don’t dislike it. It’s OK – just OK, but I totally agree that it could be more “Minnesotan.”