by Dennis Dalman
Within a month, Minnesotans will know what their new state flag and state seal will look like, now that the 11 finalists have recently been announced.
Early in 2023, the Minnesota State Legislature decided to update the flag and seal with new designs and invited the public to submit designs.
The current state flag, adopted in 1893, depicts a settler plowing land in the foreground and in the background a Native American on horseback riding away. That image is also on the official state seal.
For the redesign process, there were more than 2,000 flag designs submitted and about 400 state-seal designs.
The submissions run the gamut from realistic drawings and paintings to abstract evocations of floating loons, stars, pine trees, waterways, snow, canoes, rising suns – to name just some. One particular devilish tongue-in-cheek design is a huge blood-thirsty mosquito above the words “Minnesota Republic” with an (itchy?) North Star to the pest’s left. That design was not among the finalists (perhaps it should have been?)
A few of the designs submitted were delightful sketches created by children, such as a loon on water drawn with color crayons.
Recently, the State Emblems Redesign Commission announced six flag-design finalists and five seal-design finalists. Public input for favorites among the finalists will be available online sometime in early December.
Most of the 11 finalists (six flags, five seals) tend toward the abstract, the iconic. All of the flag designs contain variations of the North Star, since Minnesota has long been known as the “North Star State.” Along with white, the colors on the designs are yellow (for the stars), black for night background, blue for rivers or sky, green for Minnesota’s vast forests, and white for snow and/or clouds and for a few of the stars.
The five mostly abstract state seal finalists contain the same colors. Each round seal has the words around its edges “The Great Seal of Minnesota” or “State of Minnesota” and each includes the phrase “L’Etoile Du Nord” (French for “Star of the North”). That phrase honors the French Voyageurs, who were some of the earliest European explorers/traders to arrive in what became Minnesota. Four of the five seal designs contain “1858,” the year Minnesota was established as a state, and four of the designs have an abstract eye-catching star in their centers, while a fifth design depicts a semi-abstract rising loon in its center.
To learn more and to see each finalist, go online to the State Emblems Redesign Commission website. To view the flag finalists, visit the Flag Entry Page and look for entries F29, F944, F1154, F1435, F1953, F2100. For the state-seal finalist, go to the Seal Entry Page and look for finalists S2, S6, S27, S147, S224.
The names of those who submitted the designs selected as finalists will be announced soon.
During the flag/state seal redesign process, the State Emblems Redesign Commission provided administrative support from the Minnesota Historical Society.