Minnesota State Flag Update: Reasons Behind the Change

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By 5mustsee.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota’s new flag was recently unveiled, sparking curiosity about the motivation behind this alteration. The decision to replace the old flag was driven by various factors, with historical considerations playing a significant role.

During the 2023 legislative session, the State Emblems Redesign Commission was formed to revamp Minnesota’s flag and seal.

State officials indicated a dual rationale for the change. Firstly, concerns arose regarding the imagery on the old flag, which was deemed offensive by many. Originally introduced in 1957, the flag depicted a White settler engaged in farming while an Indigenous man rode on horseback. Members of the Indigenous community on the State Emblem Redesign Commission expressed that the previous design was detrimental to their heritage and contributed to the erasure of their presence on the land.

Governor Tim Walz acknowledged the need for change, stating, “Our current flag is problematic. I think we all know that. We’ve evolved into a more diverse state, and I think it’s more reflective of that.”

Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, refused to endorse the old flag.

The controversial nature of the flag’s design had been a point of contention for some time. In 1983, slight modifications were made to the state seal and flag. While the original version before 1983 showed the Indigenous figure moving away from the settler, the revised version portrayed the rider angling slightly towards them.

According to state regulations, the new design was mandated to “accurately and respectfully reflect Minnesota’s shared history, resources, and diverse cultural communities.” Furthermore, the guidelines stipulated that the design should not feature symbols, emblems, or likenesses exclusive to a single community or individual, whether real or stylized.

Criticism of the flag extended beyond its historical representation. Aesthetic concerns were raised, with opponents noting deviations from principles of “good flag design,” as outlined by the North American Vexillological Association—emphasizing meaningful symbols, limited colors, and the exclusion of lettering or seals. Additionally, some critics highlighted similarities between the old flag and those of other states.

Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives Melissa Hortman encapsulated the sentiment surrounding the change, stating, “We changed the flag for a reason. In addition to it being a poor design, it was offensive to a large number of people.”

Despite efforts by some Republican state lawmakers to delay the introduction of the new flag, their endeavors faced resistance in the Democrat-controlled legislature.

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